by Mark Ernest Pothier
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Pub Date 15 May 2023 | Archive Date 15 May 2023
University of Iowa Press, University Of Iowa Press
“It’s rare for a novel to probe the psyches of its characters as deeply as Mark Ernest Pothier does in Outer Sunset. Many writers don’t even suspect such depths exist. They do, though, and here’s the proof.”—Richard Russo, author, Empire Falls
“The father and daughter at the heart of this beautiful novel entirely captured mine. Mark Ernest Pothier has written an affecting story, both serious and funny, about a self-sufficient middle-aged man who finds himself suddenly confronted with the messy work of love and forgiveness in the face of looming mortality. I read it with a sense of quiet urgency and finished it with great satisfaction.”—Julia Glass, author, Three Junes
“Outer Sunset traces one solitary man’s late reawakening and rediscovery of what was and still is best in his life. Mark Ernest Pothier’s debut is a wise and gentle meditation on last chances and the power of hope.”—Stewart O’Nan, author, Emily, Alone
“Outer Sunset is elegant but not showy, straightforward but not simple, serious but not humorless. Its subjects—money, disease, divorce, death, belief—are laid out in a pattern as complex as the layers of San Francisco life that every page of this novel reveals. The characters are complex too, rich and full of mystery and revelations and surprises. This is a deeply pleasurable and satisfying read.”—Valerie Sayers, author, The Age of Infidelity and Other Stories
“Beautiful and touching, Outer Sunset tells a stirring father-daughter tale about facing impending loss with faith, hope, forgiveness, and healing.”—Foreword, starred review
“Outer Sunset is an altogether impressive debut, a wise, elegantly written book about a transformational moment for a family and their city. Insightful and bittersweet, it is—without qualification—a terrific novel.”—San Francisco Chronicle
Average rating from 3 members
by Mark Ernest Pothier
This writer, Mark Ernest Pothier is what books writers should be. It was every emotion you can feel. It was sunsets, foggy evenings, and rainy mornings, I was caught up in the beauty of an older Dad, and his daughter who is ill.
He comes awake with a need, a want to help her. I revisit some past and present of the family. I felt this beautiful novel will stay with me. A classic and what a film this would be.Thank you for showing me once again what it feels to read, wanting it to go on, but never wanting it to end. Brilliantly written novel.
Very good stuff. This author writes well and creates an effective atmosphere and characters. I stayed engaged, and expect this one to stick with me for a while.
Thanks very much for the free ARC for review!!
Critics of literary fiction say they hate it because nothing happens. Lovers of literary fiction say they love it because nothing happens. I may be making that up, but the appeal of the genre for me has always been the character study at the centre, and this book is a good example.
The narrator is a father of two adult children, separated from his wife three years before, but still feeling it keenly. He spends much of his time sitting in a back room of the bungalow he still lives in, possibly drinking too much. His kids look in and try to keep an eye on him, but they have their own lives. When his daughter receives a (spoiler: the) dread diagnosis, he has to find himself again, and examine the ways in which he has fathered his children, and how he has responded to his many losses.
It’s a really thoughtful portrait of fatherhood, unusual for me as most of the books I read that are like this are about motherhood. I loved it for this, and for the protagonist, too. He’s far from perfect, or knowledgeable, or confident, or any of the things fake fathers in books tend to be. He’s emotional, and conflicted, and confused, and stumbling, a delicately-drawn human.
That’s my main recommendation of this book, the primary reason I think you should read it. There are some deeply sad moments, and things in fact get really bleak; but the novel does end on an achingly beautiful, hopeful note.
Thank you to University of Iowa Press and to NetGalley for the ARC.