cover image Pocketful of Names

Pocketful of Names

Joe Coomer, Author . Graywolf $24 (304p) ISBN 978-1-55597-423-7

Coomer (One Vacant Chair ) weighs solitude against companionship and explores how "people can interfere with the smooth running of your life" in this artfully crafted but long-winded novel. Hannah Bryant, 34, is a successful artist living and painting on a rocky Maine isle. With her parents dead and her younger half-sister, Emily, in a strict religious order, her closest relative had been her great-uncle Arno, with whom she'd spent several summers on Ten Acres No Nine Island, hers when he died. Hannah relishes her seclusion and has "kept the island inviolable," with the exception of someone who's been mysteriously digging holes and a dog, Driftwood, who has washed ashore. When Emily writes to her about a boy in trouble who needs a place to hide, Hannah's staunchly guarded privacy begins to crumble. When more people arrive, they open closets to reveal all sorts of skeletons—about Arno's drug business and Hannah's art sales in particular—but, mired in detail and stretched across too many pages, the surprises may not be enough to sustain the reader interest. Coomer is a graceful writer, though, conveying natural beauty and emotional turmoil with equal polish. (June)