Hey, how would you like to spend some time in the mind of a terrible man as his world spins out of control into apathy, depression, and alcoholism? Read as his thoughts range from self hating over-analysis to smug superiority over his son and other people he is meant to love. That doesn't sound fun to you?
Well, it's not, but it is amazingly well written and plays out like a train wreck everyone can't help but watch. Jernigan's downward spiral seems to begin with the freaky death of his wife, but we learn it really started long before that, when he was simply born a defunct person incapable of happiness. The period of his life we are allowed in on is during his recent widowerhood when his son sets him up with his girlfriend's mother and the four live together in weird domestic non bliss.
David Gates has been on Brix Picks before with his equally brilliant Preston Falls, another asshole man saga which, unlike this novel, delves into the woman's side of the story. Both books have garnered critical acclaim, Jernigan was even a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, but Gates is still not as popular a writer as he deserves to be.
My friend Stacy told me about Preston Falls, or else I may have never heard of him. I hope he writes another novel soon, it's almost been ten years, but if you've read him, you can imagine how demanding these books are to write–they're pretty demanding to just read.