Probably I should publish the link to the New York Times note about Evel Knievel Days. It’s a favorable notice — and of course it’s a huge honor to be selected for the column — of all the many books published during the month of July. How great to be in the paper of record! I do argue with one of the review’s contentions — namely that all the events in the book don’t make sense. (Of course they make sense. What a strange thing to say!) But — all in all — a terrific notice, and by a journalist, Susannah Meadows, whose work I really respect. An honor.
Here’s the full text, after the star.
Here is a story that doesn’t always make sense and has some annoying digressions (see the main character’s multiple conversations with a ghost) but is told with an addictive voice and bulges with fully realized characters. This, Mr. Toutonghi’s second novel, is a case of charm versus failings and, in the end, charm wins. Hemmed in by anxiety, the 23-year-old Khosi Saqr rarely strays from his routine or his mother’s Butte, Mont., home. But then he sleeps with his oldest, best friend — a dream fulfilled, until she tells him she’s engaged. At the same time his Egyptian father, who’s been gone since Khosi was 3, visits Khosi’s mother and leaves before introducing himself to his son. The emotional upheaval shatters Khosi’s controlled environment, and he walks away a free man. Soon he boards a flight to Cairo to track down his father. In the swirl of the city Khosi is overwhelmed. “I was nothing,” he says. “Dust towered over me in its significance.”