cover image Hotline Heaven

Hotline Heaven

Frances Park. Permanent Press (NY), $24 (144pp) ISBN 978-1-57962-011-0

Grieving over the loss of his young son, Monk Miller volunteers at a crisis hotline and ends up marrying one of his regular callers, a woman named Jo, the narrator of this slim tale of an awkward domestic arrangement. Five years later, Monk and Jo are happy, more or less. Jo is working in a bakery; Monk is a low-level manager for Home-Mart, a chain that supplies home repair materials. When the couple buys a house, Jo makes friends with the previous owner, an elderly widower named Clyde. Although Jo is pleased with Clyde's frequent presence at the table as cake sampler and raconteur, Monk has little compassion for anyone but himself. As Monk struggles with corporate bureaucracy, Jo cares for the increasingly needy Clyde, relives painful memories from her childhood and attempts to bake the perfect cake. Monk's growing dissatisfaction with his career becomes all-encompassing, until he gets the promotion he wants, restoring his self-confidence and bringing new hope for the marriage. Although the dynamic between Jo and Monk is the foundation of the book, the relationship between Jo and Clyde is the only one with any life--and it is cut short when Monk reclaims his conjugal rights by throwing Clyde out of the house, an abrupt end to an unrealized, sentimental novella. (July)