cover image Monument Road

Monument Road

Charlie Quimby.. Torrey House (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (378p) ISBN 978-1-937226-25-1

Quimby's novel of redemption opens with widower Leonard Self desperately seeking oblivion as he heads toward the cliff he plans to jump to off. Prior to the death of his wife, he promised her he would wait exactly one year to spread her ashes from a cliff overlooking their favorite valley. We soon learn that the despair-filled Leonard has spent the past year quietly paring down what remains of his ranch, disposing of his belongings, and preparing to carry out his promise while also secretly planning on going off cliff with her. While tracking Leonard's ongoing battle with his demons, the narrative deftly weaves in the stories of the other characters surrounding his life. Much like the protagonist, the people he encounters are both figuratively and literally at the cliff's edge. Believable and human, these characters also have understandable and realistic motives. As the final moment approaches, Leonard, a rugged individual, and never one to ask others for favors, manages to find lessons from his deceased wife amid the flawed and damaged people surrounding him. Arid and harrowing yet painstakingly realistic in their motives, Quimby's characters provide the central force of the novel. Yet the Colorado setting and the author's simple style of prose perfectly complement the complexity of the human spirit in this superb debut. (Nov.)