Suspension

 

by Robert Westfield

 

 review by Dr. Ronald P. Baumanis

 

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Andy Green, gay college admissions-test question-writer, based on an act of violence in NYC's Hell's Kitchen, retreats to his apartment for many months. What comes before, and what comes after, is dark comedy at it's best.

It's difficult to speak much of the plot of SUSPENSION, Robert Westfield's wonderful novel, except to state that while it seems absurd at face value, the characters and situations are as keenly observed as any in current literature and reflect a NYC that is real, gritty, uncaring-and-caring at the same time. Weaving together a story of vivid characters in modern-day NYC with a mysterious event that occurred ten years previously in Michigan, the story barrels along  to its highly satisfying finish.

The novel speaks to things we can control, and things we can not; coincidences; and appearances that may not (or may!) be what we first expect.

Combining farce, mystery and travelogue, Westfield draws a portrait of NYC before and after 9/11 that isn't about terrorists, and while portions are very serious is never morose. The novel veers from one outlandish instance to another - and yet remains utterly believable. As a 14-year past-resident of Manhattan myself, I found the novel's ability to capture the essence of NYC (even its smells) better than any recent novel I have read that has been set in the city.

By the middle of the novel, you will be glancing back at the photo on the back cover and wondering how much of this is novel, and how much of this is autobiography, and hoping most is the former and little in the latter.

A fine book.

 

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