cover image Twenty-One Truths About Love

Twenty-One Truths About Love

Matthew Dicks. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-10348-2

Dicks (Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend) chronicles the mounting economic and romantic anxieties of expectant father Dan Mayrock through Dan’s scribbled lists and notes, a gimmick that can’t quite be sustained for the length of a novel. Dan’s wife, Jill, was widowed when he met her, and Dan constantly compares himself to the specter of her seemingly perfect first husband, Peter. He’s certain that Peter would never have done what Dan’s done: quit his teaching job, open a bookstore, and lie to his pregnant wife about their financial situation, which is becoming dire. As Dan grows desperate in his attempts to shoulder this burden alone, he cooks up a plan to rob a local bingo night, driven to the absurd (“Be aggressive./ Move fast./ It’s better to get nothing than to get caught./ Remember that these are old ladies.”) in order to provide for his family. Dicks has impeccable comedic timing and touchingly renders family dynamics, but the exhausting list format will fall flat for readers who don’t find Dan charming enough to justify it. This experimental work never quite manages to transcend the essential boringness of flipping through someone else’s notepad. (Oct.)