cover image Gypsy Storyteller

Gypsy Storyteller

Thomas William Simpson. Warner Books, $29.99 (382pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51613-6

``I'd like you to imagine you're me,'' begins Mac Chandler, the narrator of this engaging novel, and in the clear voice of a born raconteur he makes the reader imagine just that. ``It's an old story,'' Mac admits--two men in love with the same woman--but he tells it in fresh and unpredictable ways. As the action progresses from 1956 to 1991, moving from Mac's New Jersey hometown to a Pennsylvania prep school (where he meets the girl he will always love), and on to Nantucket and New York City, we learn that all three main characters are handicapped by history or injury. Daniel is both the son of a Gypsy who survived Dachau and a direct descendant of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Rachel, blinded in a car accident, becomes famous as a painter--but when her sight returns, she creates another identity who paints with her eyes open. Mac, obsessed with both of them, strains between hugging the shores of his life in the Chandler law firm and sailing away into the unknown. The narration's intimate, direct tone gives the novel an autobiographical feel, even as the plot ranges from Nazi-hunting and reincarnation to modern-day Huck-and-Tom adventures. With a true-to-life mix of things that just happen and things that happen for a reason, Simpson ( This Way Madness Lies ) has created a coming-into-wisdom novel about people who wander endlessly in search of some place or state of being to call home. (Mar.)