cover image Every Third Thought: A Novel in Five Seasons

Every Third Thought: A Novel in Five Seasons

John Barth. Counterpoint, $24 (208p) ISBN 978-1-58243-755-2

Though fans will enjoy Barth's latest, which tackles the subject of old-age and dying, newcomers may find the novel gimmicky. George Irving (G.) Newett, a 77-year-old Maryland native, begins this fictional memoir by explaining a series of unlikely occurrences (a "fluke tornado in the otherwise all but storm-free hurricane season") that bookmark emotionally significant events of his life, placing great importance on seasonal changes, such as "post-equinoctial vision" and "solstitial illumination." His recollections of childhood memories with his best friend%E2%80%94and fellow fiction-writer%E2%80%94Ned Prosper are titillating (the two friends exchange sexual partners, in one compelling section), but ultimately unsatisfying. As a character, Ned lacks the fullness Barth (Lost in the Funhouse) brings to G.'s wife, Amanda Todd, a fellow English professor. However, Barth's depiction of the emotional and sexual lives of married senior citizens proves heartfelt, and crucial to the novel's unexpected climax.%C2%A0(Oct).%C2%A0