Kyle Beachy Critic's Choice Free Recommended

When: Thu., Jan. 29, 7 p.m. 2009

“How foolish I’d been to think the spinning I had heard these past nights . . . was plot. Such was my inexperience with the device,” the protagonist of The Slide (The Dial Press) thinks, even as the sinuous plot tightens around him. The debut novel by Chicagoan Kyle Beachy, The Slide is a quirky coming-of-age tale: our young man, Potter Mays, finds that old friends are drifting away from him, that the adults he’s relied upon for stability are subject to uncertainty, and that what would’ve been high jinks have become felonies. Newly graduated from a California liberal arts college, he returns to his parents’ upscale home in suburban Saint Louis while his girlfriend, Audrey—whose affections are on the wane—spends the summer touring Europe with her “beautiful, bisexual” friend Carmel. He slouches into a job as a delivery driver for a bottled water company, receives enigmatic packages from Audrey, and forms an odd friendship with a 12-year-old latchkey kid he meets on his route. Saint Louis, a city notable for its inferiority complex (Potter’s dad heads up a booster organization called St. Louis Hooray!), makes a worthy backdrop to Potter’s nervous narrative, and the area’s signifiers—the Gateway Arch, the Galleria mall, pork steaks—are duly checked off while the undulating fortunes of the Cardinals mark the passage of the summer. Which ends as such summers do, with a chill in the air and Potter slightly older and wiser—even if the best he can offer in the way of summation is “The moral is all things change.” —Patrick Daily

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