Jim Finley—a recently retired English teacher living alone on the shifting edge of San Francisco—has been set, unwittingly, on the back porch of life. Trying to harmonize the voices in his head, he sits most days by his stack of “to-do” books until, one day, his daughter comes home with the worst news of her life. Everything changes. He sees his ex-wife has launched into a larger life than the one they’d shared. He is surprised to find it easier to talk to his son’s immigrant girlfriend, or even the remains of a Russian saint, than to the young man he’s raised. He misconnects with Carol—his first date in decades—a woman he enjoys talking with but doesn’t quite hear. Set in the pre-tech calm before the turn of this century, Outer Sunset is a deeply felt story about the intimate place where long-lasting growth occurs in our lives; how we revise, or live without, our dreams; how to love the flaws of those closest to you and watch a child grow away into someone better than you’d imagined; and how to be shaken by beauty amidst unimaginable loss and remain standing. (Univ. of Iowa Press, May 15, 2023; ISBN-13: 978-1609388836)
The Man Who Owns Little
Pete—an impetuous, avowedly self-absorbed writer, and Dave—a pithy banker with a "genius for generosity"—had maintained a close friendship since their first days at college. They stood as Best Man for each other; they are godfathers to each other's sons.
That bond cracks during one visit in their mid-thirties, and since then neither can say with any satisfaction why. In their ensuing letters, both men begin speaking with a candor they never shared face-to-face, and over 15 years they break down and rebuild what each thought of the other, and of themselves, sifting the remains of a friendship dissolved and youth passed.
(Cover by Mason Cummings. Cover photo by Greg Minuskin.)