cover image Blithedale Canyon

Blithedale Canyon

Michael Bourne. Regal House, $18.95 trade paper (292p) ISBN 978-1-64603-182-5

Bourne, a reviewer for PW, debuts with an acute and vulnerable expression of male angst set in Mill Valley, Calif. Trent Wolfer, a man in his late 20s, is haunted by a history of poor, debauched decision making. After spending time in prison for embezzling funds from a liquor store, he returns home, picks up a fast food job, and moves back in with his groovy Marin County mother and her wealthy second husband. Meanwhile, Trent struggles with regret, habitual lying, and alcoholism. However, after an encounter with an old flame, he begins to take his life more seriously and shifts over to a job at a wholesome grocery store. Reform and temptation tug at him with equal force, which Bourne conveys with a searing, confessional sincerity. Readers might think of Trent as an older version of Holden Caulfield (according to Trent, everyone in town is “full of shit”), and despite his deeply flawed nature, the more he wobbles and struggles, the more endearing he becomes. This will resonate with readers. (June)