The One-Eyed Man
The premise of this very original novel seems to have grown out of these “fake news” times. As our protagonist says toward the end of THE ONE-EYED MAN, “I realized that the bread and butter of the modern newsman was opacity. When one has an endless succession of 24-hour news cycles to fill, the fewer known facts, the better.”
K. the book’s narrator, is a youngish widower who’s obsessed with telling his friends, strangers and, ultimately, his television audience that their long-cherished beliefs are based on incorrect assumptions. His rise to fame begins when he refuses to be considered a hero for rescuing a young coffee shop waitress in the way of a deranged armed robber. A producer sees him on the news and introduces the notion of a reality show in which K. tells a range of individuals why their firm opinions bear little relation to the facts. The show becomes a huge hit, mostly because the people K. confronts blame him for trying to destroy their delusions. K. seems mildly concerned by their overreaction, but can’t stop telling it like it is.
"This ambitious and impressive novel captures the daily dysfunction of modern life with humor and cynicism, even as it forces us to look beyond the distractions to larger truths. It’s quite an exhilarating journey."
As a result, K. is pummeled by a Shaolin monk, punched by an angry hillbilly, and finally kidnapped by a crowd of Texas gun enthusiasts who call themselves the Cold Dead Fingers Club. The scene at their compound where K. and his television assistant and lover, Claire, are taken evolves into a survivalist apocalypse worthy of a big budget movie. But the lead-up is bizarrely intimate and entertaining as Theodore, the club leader, speaks --- as do most of Ron Currie’s characters --- like an amateur philosopher, quoting, among others, Thomas Carlyle, whom he prefers to Bertrand Russell (who’s “a little too prim”).
THE ONE-EYED MAN tackles the big ideas and issues with vigor and often venom. The vacuousness of most people’s lives, especially in 21st-century America? Check. Sickness, death and the afterlife? Check. The symbiosis of reason and emotion? Check.
But the overarching theme here is how much we delude ourselves because we’re not strong enough for the truth. Much of this is played out in flashbacks from K.’s time with his dying wife, where he has to face what their marriage really meant to him and how her death has changed him.
This ambitious and impressive novel captures the daily dysfunction of modern life with humor and cynicism, even as it forces us to look beyond the distractions to larger truths. It’s quite an exhilarating journey.
Reviewed by Lorraine W. Shanley on March 17, 2017
The One-Eyed Man
- Publication Date: March 7, 2017
- Genres: Fiction
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Viking
- ISBN-10: 0670025356
- ISBN-13: 9780670025350