Mr. Breakfast

Melville House. Jan. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781612199924. $27.99. FANTASY
The latest from award-winning Carroll (Bathing the Lion) is a compulsively readable, introspective tale about the road not taken. Between his bombing comedy career and his failed love life, Graham Patterson’s life is plummeting downhill. He aimlessly hits the road and stops at a tattoo shop in North Carolina, where he uncharacteristically gets a rare and otherworldly tattoo. The tattoo sparks visions of alternate lives, and Graham suddenly finds that he can choose between the paths. In the meantime, biographer James Arthur receives a series of mysterious blank photographs that are full of meaning, leading him to investigate the strange past of the famous photographer Graham Patterson and his inexplicable disappearance. Carroll’s weird and heartfelt adventure explores what it means to have a perfect life and the choices people make to get there. Though the ending is abrupt and a bit anticlimactic, the alternate timelines are cleverly interconnected.
VERDICT At its heart, this is an arresting and imaginative meditation on life. Perfect for fans of magical realism with a free-flowing style like that of David Mitchell and Toshikazu Kawaguchi.
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