Monday, December 1, 2014

Review: The Dunning Man by Kevin Fortuna

Title: The Dunning Man

Author: Kevin Fortuna
Publisher: Lavender Ink
Date of Publication: October 2014
Pages: 140

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing this review copy. To read other blogger reviews, check out the virtual book tour that's currently running!

Summary from the Publisher: 

"The six stories in THE DUNNING MAN feature anti-heroes who reject society's rules. Characters from all walks of life-a rogue hip-hop star, a blackjack dealing mom, a middle-aged drunk plowing through his inheritance, and an empty nester housewife trying to make peace with the past. They each exist in the here and now, living for what's possible and what's left-not what they've left behind. Redemption awaits all, but only along the rutted, gut-churning path of honest self-examination. Age quod agis. Set in Atlantic City, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., the Hudson Valley and Manhattan, Fortuna's stories depict the violent clash between society's expectations and the chaotic arc of individual destiny. These are powerful tales of individuals imbued with larger-than-life personalities and the all-consuming need to find something worth seeking."

Things I Think:

I was beyond impressed with this small-yet-powerful collection from Kevin Fortuna. Though at first glance the book looks like a quick read, I found myself savoring each of the stories over the course of two weeks. Each moment Fortuna creates in his quiet stories resonated heavily with me, and I think this is primarily due to the "underdog" status of each protagonist. Deemed criminals, or slumlords, or simply a drunk, the characters are imbued with loving complexity, making it impossible not to take a sympathetic ear to the struggles in which they inevitably find themselves.

I admittedly had to look up the context of the title:

The final story in the collection, which shares the book's title, necessarily uses this definition most literally. (A struggling landlord is attempting to collect on rent from his elusive, tiger-owning, circus-running subletters.) However, the concept is interwoven throughout each tale equally, as Fortuna's characters attempt to collect on lost loves, missed chances, the respect of their peers. These quests have an emotional cost that's incredibly heightened by the setting, and the socioeconomic aspects that come into play are no less import for characters seeking love rather than money. 

Looking forward to more from this author and his Lethem-esque scenarios.