The Hollow Middle by John Popielaski
Unsolicited Press: 12/4/18
Trade paperback: 382 pages
The Hollow Middle by John Popielaski is a so-so meandering discourse on a wide variety of topics via a brain-damaged man.
Albert Lesiak is a hard drinking English teacher at a parochial
school in Connecticut. Mary, his long-suffering wife, is used to his
benders and wandering ways, yet she still questions why she is stays
with him. She also wants to foster parent or adopt autistic twin boys
and is trying to talk Albert into this course of action. Albert, who in a
round-about-way inherits a large sum of money from his father's death,
decides to live a different life off the grid on land he owns in Maine.
The Hollow Middle covers a wide range of very random topics
and Albert's opinion on them all, either at length or briefly, as they
flit through his brain. The majority of the novel consists of Albert's
random thoughts about everything and anything. A few topics include:
drinking until you pass out, bird watching, environmental concerns,
materialism, the media, politics, life lessons martyrs provide, mice,
porcupines, fishing, measurements when building, and bodily elimination.
Basically, some topics are absurd, some reactionary, some conjectural,
some existential, some ordinary, and some transcendental.
I can't fault the technical quality of the writing, but I can point
out that it is verbose. Those of you who have a friend or acquaintance
who happens to be, say an English teacher, who knows all the words, and
insists on using all of them, will recognize Albert. If this same
individual holds and insists on sharing strong opinions about various
and sundry topics, you will further recognize the character of Albert.
If you are like me, and know many, many of the words and also hold
strong opinions of your own, but with purpose and intent do not use all
the words or proclaim all your opinions all the time to everyone, well,
you may, like me be annoyed almost from the start with this character.
This may be Popielaski's intent, but it made the novel a long slog
during certain points. We are living in Albert's thoughts for most of
the novel, with a few forays into Mary's thoughts, and by the end of the
novel I was unequivocally weary of this character. Finishing this novel
was an onerous task.
Although The Hollow Middle was not a good choice for me, I know that there are readers who will appreciate Albert's discourse.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this
book from Unsolicited Press for TLC Book Tours.