Morris Shutt is a syndicated newspaper columnist to many newspapers around the country. His wife is a Psychiatrist who is in practice. They also have three grown children – one is married, he also has a grandchild.
Everything in his life is as it seems – ordinary, peaceful, happy times. He works at his office, he answers letters from his readers, he writes his columns. Just everyday normal stuff.
Then that is, on one of these perfectly normal days that the bottom drops out of everything he has lived for. His son who has recently joined the army and stationed in Iraq is killed.
Morris’ column suffers tremendously as a result and is asked to take a sabbatical of sorts. He starts to lay blame with the politicians, and anyone else he can conjure up. To say the least, this is the beginning of his bottom – going from somewhat famous to somewhat psychotic.
Then his marriage falls apart. He leaves and buys a condominium and decides that one day he is going to cash in all of his investments – buy a safe – and store the money in the safe in his home.
In this very revealing introspective, Morris attempts to examine his life in different, diffused ways. He slowly bares all of his soul, how he was raised, his father being a pastor in the Mennonite faith. How his ideals have changed over time, the mistakes he’s made. He bears the responsibility of his son’s death in Iraq. Did I mention he also stashed $10,000 of cash pasted up behind his fridge..
But once he realizes that at an estate sale of a former professor he had in college; where he buys all of the philosophy books he can carry – Plato and Cicero, that for him these calm him in a strange sense. It helps him come to terms that it really wasn’t his fault his son joined the army, it was because his son really wanted to be there.
He realizes the most important part of all – Nothing is really as it seems to him. Even the craziness that he thinks his life has become.
This book was a finalist for the Giller Prize of 2010.
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