Author: Urban Waite
Usually I just don’t review a book that does not connect for me. However, as I meandered through the characters in The Terror of Living, I felt like sediment sludging quickly down beneath the current, sitting on the bottom and remaining, well, sludge-like. Phil Hunt and his wife Nora live on the fringes in Washington State, with everything falling apart. Hunt, who killed a man years ago and went to prison for it, now owns a patchy, weedy, horse farm with 2 horses of his own (his and Nora’s “kids”). They also board other horses. He and Nora eke out a living – barely. To get by, Hunt occasionally runs drugs through the mountain passes.
Phil Drake, a deputy, also has a wife, Sheri. They are newlyweds. He falls into Hunt and a kid picking up a drug drop as the helicopter skews away, and shoots Hunt’s horse out from under him. The kid with Hunt is caught, and killed, in the holding cell where he has been brought for questioning. Drake unwilling teams up with DEA Agent Driscoll to find Hunt. Drake knows a little about running drugs. His father, a former lawman, is in jail because he ran drugs in his own time. The rift between Drake and his father remains unresolved.
When I read that Urban Waite studied at Emerson College, I raised an eyebrow, as that was my graduate school for creative writing. But it took mud boots for me to wade to the end of this novel, and even then, I got wet. My terror was of getting even more bored than I already was.
The Terror of Living will appeal to many readers, for the prose is catching, the locale is lush, and the characters seem to own their ambivalence and feelings; and Waite has been thrown many good reviews. My take was a drug deal gone wrong, with me having to finish a novel that proved somewhat stereotypical and contrived. Maybe I was expecting “Brokeback Mountain;” at any rate, I don’t handle mediocrity well, and I the novel simply did not appeal to me.
The Terror of Living: A Novel is available at bookstores and online.
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own.
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