cover image Lawn Boy

Lawn Boy

Jonathan Evison. Algonquin, $26.95 (320p) ISBN SBN 978-1-61620-262-0

This moving fifth novel from Evison (This is Your Life, Harriet Chance) enters the wry, conflicted mind of Mike Muñoz, a recently fired yard worker with a real talent for topiary and a genuine love for landscaping. When Mike is sacked after refusing to comply with a client’s orders to pick up after his dog, he takes refuge in the one place in the world that’s always welcomed him: the library. As he tries to figure out what to do next, Mike contemplates writing the “Great American Landscaping Novel”—the sort of novel he’d like to read—but writing novels, he realizes, isn’t for people like him: “landscapers, especially unemployed ones... had bills to pay. Cars to fix. Disabled siblings to care for.” Evison convincingly evokes the small disasters and humiliations that beset America’s working poor. Mike’s gradual growth into self-awareness is punctuated by moments of human kindness and grace that transpire in and among broken-down trucks, trailer parks, and strip malls. Focusing on the workers who will only ever be welcome in gated communities as hired help, Evison’s quiet novel beautifully considers the deterioration of the American Dream. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (Apr.)