cover image A Small Hotel

A Small Hotel

Robert Olen Butler. Grove, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1987-2

This slight conventional drama from Pulitzer-winner Butler (Hell) tells the story of a failed marriage through flashbacks on the day the couple is to be divorced. Reserved tough-guy Michael Hays is hoping to bed his much younger girlfriend while his soon-to-be-ex, Kelly, skips out on filing the divorce papers to ponder suicide in the same hotel room where they fell in love 20 years ago. Flashbacks tossed in under negligible pretexts give Michael and Kelly ample opportunity to ponder their history for the reader's edification, showing Michael to be a boorish void and Kelly a needy woman desperate for one romantic declaration. With few surprises and facile psychology (daddy issues abound), this insubstantial tale is at least easily digestible. (July)