Men are dogs.
Or, men are pigs.
David Long said it in an interview with www.curledup.com. The interviewer was Janelle Martin, from 2006:
“Men are dogs. Not exactly a news flash. Anyway, novels are about people in the grip of change. Usually what this amounts to is that they make choices and have to live with the consequences. Infidelity is one of these—it’s a betrayal of a basic agreement people make with each other; it’s the triumph of short-term gratification. It holds the potential for drama (not to mention melodrama)―pain, breakup, and so forth. For many spouses, the betrayal is absolute―it’s like dropping a crystal bowl on a marble floor. But for others there’s the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation.”
Or Eliot Spitzer, Jim McGreevey, Bill Clinton or John Edwards.
On and on.
I wish they all could read “The Falling Boy,” one of the most brilliant works of fiction I’ve consumed in a long, long time.
There are lots of great novels about adultery, but it’s rare to read one as pitch perfect as this.
There are lots of spot-on novels with intriguing characters, good dialogue and a great setting but it’s rare to find all three. “The Falling Boy” is a beautifully rendered work by an artist. You have the feeling that every page was chiseled from stone—or, at least, a rich imagination. You want to drink in each page, bathe in the prose.
The writing isn’t fussy. It’s not look-at-me sentences and show-off prose.
The writing is grounded and gives you the feeling you could walk into The Vagabond Café or down the main street of Sperry, Montana in the 1950s, where and when “The Falling Boy” is set. Others have compared Long’s style to John Updike and that’s entirely appropriate (it’s that good). But if don’t like Updike because he’s too flashy or too proud of his huge vocabulary, Long might be more to your liking.
Although Long’s word work is more restrained, he is just as poetic. There’s something effortless about Long’s prose, even though so much care has clearly gone into the work.
The story is about construction worker Mark Singer and his marriage to Olivia Stavros. Olivia is one of four Stavros sisters and Mark’s affair with an older sister. The book flap description of a man marrying a woman and having an affair with one of her sisters is too compressed, too crystallized to do the story justice.
“The Falling Boy” is about how Mark Singer falls into the affair and how he works his way back into his marriage. It’s also about The Vagabond Café and the four sisters (the story is told from multiple points of view, all given same level of care and treatment as the main character).
“After its flagrant, disorienting start, the first summer of Mark’s marriage proves mild, seasonable. If anyone happened to ask, he’d admit to happiness. He has a job and a wife, an apartment, a savings book. Has a ’41 Dodge Deluxe, his father-in-law’s old car, handed down as a wedding fit, not a flashy vehicle by current standards, but roadworthy, barely rusted, still has some bristle left to the green upholstery…as he drives, he circles his free hand on it until the palm tingles and goes numb.”
“The Falling Boy” is about how families, businesses and relationships are bonded—and how they are not. It’s about how men settle for (and pursue) their own imperfections and, if they choose to, how they work to set things right.
It’s about a crystal bowl shattering on the floor and it’s about one man who tries to pick up the pieces and put them back together.