North of Portsmouth (Megenhardt)

“From small things,” Bruce Springsteen sings, “big things one day come.” Such is the case for Paul Newcombe, Cleveland housing inspector, when he sees a childhood friend on TV. The friend, the deputy of a small-town police force, is receiving his 15 minutes of fame because a skull has been found.

This is enough for Paul, already stifled by his cubicle-d existence, to set off on a vacation for reasons he can’t always articulate. In Portsmouth, he not only runs into his friend, but the annual Roy Rogers Festival.

From there, he (and we) are entangled in the adventure and comedy of modern existence. And Megenhardt’s prose absolutely shines. Though Newcombe, after a visit to the memorable Cactus Jack, from Megenhardt’s first excellent novel, Dogs in the Cathedral, is not always on the road, Megenhardt’s language never stops moving. Whether he’s writing about a search for a map (in a passage that will make you laugh in recognition) or a search for a person, the narration will leave you breathless. When you read this book, and you should, you will get the same feeling you get riding the best roller coaster at a county fair. It’s incredibly exhilarating, but also occasionally dangerous. And the momentum does not stop until the final, remarkable (and surprising) conclusion.

Don’t believe me? Come meet the man himself.

David Megenhardt at Happy Dog


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