Monday, October 01, 2012

Fool


Barnaby Griswold, whether he admits it to himself or not, is largely perceived by the rest of the world to be a fool.  Those closest to him, his father and ex-mother-in-law, among them, have even told him so to his face.  Barnaby, however, is a hustler, a man very good at putting together business deals and investments from which he generally walks away with more cash than those who put their own money at risk.  So, pardon Barnaby if he believes there are bigger fools in the world than him.

But as Fool opens, it has all, inevitably, gone horribly wrong for Barnaby Griswold.  The get-rich-quick swindle he pulled off in Oklahoma City has blown up in his face and Barnaby is penniless – and soon to be even homeless.  Resigned to vacating what used to be his family’s summer home by Labor Day, he finally starts to pack his few things on the afternoon of that very day.  But where to go?

It is when, by chance, Barnaby hears of his ex-mother-in-law’s stroke that a plan begins to come together for him.  Returning to the scene of the crime, Oklahoma City, he will volunteer to help care for her as she recovers.  Unfortunately for our fool, Oklahoma City is also home to most of his recent victims, and one of them is out for revenge – any way that he can get it.

Fool, the second of Frederick G. Dillen’s two novels – first published in 1999 – is part of the new Amazon Encore / Book Lust Rediscoveries series for which Nancy Pearl selects her favorite out-of-print books for publication by Amazon.  The books selected must have been originally published between 1960 and 2000.

Frederick G. Dillen
As Pearl says in her introduction to Fool, “It’s the feelings or emotions that you experience while you’re reading a book that you remember, not the details that make up the plot.”  That is certainly the case with Fool.  Barnaby Griswold is far from being the most likable guy in the world, but he surprises everyone, himself as much as anyone, with his capacity to grow and change.  His evolving relationship with his ex-mother-in-law begins as a selfish act of Barnaby’s – he desperately needs a home, after all – but morphs into a relationship of genuine fondness and respect on both their parts. 

In a style combining multiple flashbacks, a tennis game that takes half the book to complete, and sections of stream-of-consciousness prose, Dillen creates a rather inspirational character in Barnaby Griswold.  He might start out as an obnoxious and annoying boor, but Barnaby finally figures it all out, falls in love again, and just might live the second half of his life a whole lot differently than he lived the first half.  Or he might not.

Nancy Pearl made a good choice with this one.  Fool, like its main character, deserves a second chance.

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)


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