A Lovely Malaise

(Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

All the Lasting Things. It’s a wonderful title that could mean a lot in various contexts. To me, it means that the characters created by David Hopson are capable of progress, but not change. Ultimately, they are all imprisoned by their pasts. Broadening their horizons is possible, but freedom from them is not.

Benji is an underachieving actor. Henry, his father, is a distinguished, overbearing literary figure who is losing his wits. Evelyn is his stoic, long-suffering wife. Cat sees something in Benji that others miss. Max is Claudia’s long, lost son, brilliant, compulsive, and misshapen. All are imprisoned by the past.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

The best aspect is the writing. Hopson’s style is lovely. I read it on my tablet, wishing I had a print edition and a highlighter. I quoted a phrase on social media. As an author who strives to be original, I felt envious, nonetheless.

I found it a bit slow-moving until the end, and then the sudden increase in the pace seemed jarring. At times, I found myself thinking, about Benji and others, just straighten up and fly right. Quit moping. Stop overdramatizing, you damned actor!

These characters seem to be, at worst, unwilling to do anything other than drift among the ruins of their lives, and, at best, masochistic about them. After all, masochists derive pleasure from pain.

The mood seems to make disaster inevitable. Perhaps it is a sage analysis of modern life. It seems to have a predestination about it. Avoiding an inglorious fate strikes them, ultimately, as too hard.

While I found the story frustrating and a bit self-absorbed, the redeeming quality is the author’s style. He performed naturally, though I’m sure he wouldn’t call it effortless because writing requires considerable effort.

For all my quibbles, I had a hard time putting it down.

ForgiveUsOurTrespasses [444427]
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
              Most of my books are available here, in Kindle and print editions.

              The following links are for the print editions.

              Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a crime novel about corruption in high places, or at least as high as places get in South Carolina. Dad’s a monstrous crook. Kids are on drugs. An improbable rise and calamitous fall, written just in time for the Age of Trump.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

              Longer Songs is my collection of short stories, all expanded from songs I’ve written. Try them. You like them.

              Crazy of Natural Causes, set in Kentucky, is a fable on the absurdity of life, told through a football coach who loses everything and finds ways to cope. Most of the time, it’s Jesus. Sometimes it’s weed. Chance Benford just tries to get along.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

              The Intangibles is set in the 1960s, with desegregation, civil rights, bigotry and upheaval all around and a high school football team at the center.

              The Audacity of Dope is a freewheeling tale of an unlikely hero and his girlfriend leading the Feds on a wild chase across the country. Riley Mansfield is a pot-smoking songwriter. Melissa Franklin is a schoolteacher ready for a change.

              My sportswriting is mainly on display at montedutton.com. Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (a bit more irreverent and philosophical). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at TUG50.


2 thoughts on “A Lovely Malaise

  1. Concerning “All the Lasting Things:” I thought it had some really excellent writing, and the characterization of Benji was intriguing, but I got the impression that the author felt pressure to squeeze in as many “issues” as possible, like a CW teen program: multiculturalism, homosexuality, manic depression, extramarital affairs, the hazards of texting, etc., so that it got way over-cluttered by the second half of the novel.

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