FICTION

At the Bottom of Everything

Pantheon. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780307907981. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307907998. F
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Dolnick's third novel revisits the themes of his earlier work: early adulthood angst (Zoology) and the intricacies of family (You Know Who You Are). Central character Adam admits that he is avoiding a transition to adulthood by becoming a high school tutor. The first half of the book takes readers back and forth between his current conundrum involving jealousy and obsession with two women and memories of a close childhood friendship with the precocious Thomas. These two stories come together when Thomas's parents ask for Adam's help, a journey he is willing to undertake both to escape his current situation and to deal with a defining adolescent incident. His travels to find Thomas take him to India, where he experiences culture shock, which keeps us from appreciating the setting. The conclusion hints at a religious transcendence from the physical and everyday, but the narrative cannot support such complex ideas, and the character's transformation seems abrupt.
VERDICT A quick, intoxicating read for those interested in suburban post-college stories. Other readers may find its scope too limited and its description of India and meditation a bit glib.

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