cover image Under the Rainbow

Under the Rainbow

Randall Silvis. Permanent Press (NY), $24 (128pp) ISBN 978-1-877946-28-8

This bittersweet tale follows a man through a midlife crisis as he comes to terms with failure and mortality. Donald is still in the process of recovering from his close friend's death four years earlier when he discovers that another buddy is dying of prostate cancer. Meanwhile, Donald's teenage son Travis makes numerous blissfully zealous suicide attempts. Though it is a bit strange that Travis is so happy and that his happiness should translate into a desire for death, nevertheless, this darkly humorous--and it is humorous--counterpoint allows Silvis ( An Occasional Hell ) to shift gears just when the story threatens to become morose, as he does with Donald's verbal sparring with his born-again mother-in-law. Death and happiness may be its dominant themes, but this slim novel manages to successfully touch upon quite a few subjects. There is, for example, a double twist in gender roles: Jessica, Donald's wife, is the true breadwinner of the family and Donald's mistress, Leeanne, is the aggressor he never could be. Though comic in tone, the novel does not lightly treat the complexities of love and fidelity in marriage. Silvis's narration is gentle, and whether employing magic realism or humor (macabre or otherwise) there is an underlying probity to this story. (Dec.)