Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Marriage of True Minds (more fun than a swimming pool full of lobsters)

The PW review of The Marriage of True Minds, Stephen Evans' quirky (and quixotic...and quick) debut novel caught my eye because I'm starting a memoir project with a lawyer who used to share a practice with her attorney ex-husband. A lawyer's life is embroiled in conflict as a matter of course, so two lawyers who deserve each other, for better or's fertile ground. Evans ran with that dynamic, casting two passionate, engaging characters into the scenario, providing them with pitch-perfectly audible Noel Coward dialogue, which is what really makes this book work for me -- the author gives good banter. Even when actions are over the top, the talk rings true. I read it on the red-eye from Houston to LA last week, and it was well-worth the lost sleep.

From the press kit:
The story of a crossed love that is star to every wandering bark. Together as husband and wife, Nick Ward and Lena Grant ran a successful boutique law firm in Minneapolis, vanquishing all their legal foes side by side. When Nick's charming erratic behavior finally became too much for Lena, the marriage and the partnership ended. But-like C.K. Dexter Haven and Tracy Lord-Lena and Nick just can't quite separate. Lena works out fiercely, keeps her dates with the boring and conventional Preston Winter, and daily battles on against corporate greed. But Nick's not doing so well. Still brilliant and devilishly clever, he is now also almost crazy. He is prone to fantasy and the big gesture, and he engages frantically in guerrilla activism for the sake of animals wild and domestic. Nick doesn't make plans; he has visions. And eventually his antics put him back into Lena's hands. While she tries to navigate the legal waters into which he's thrown them, Nick veers out of her wake and into the midst of a strange set of companions, including Oscar, his psychiatric attendant and Action Comics collector; Ralph and Alice Wilson, the rebellious managers of the city animal shelter; and an aging Russian hound named Wolfram. Often laugh-out-loud funny, with bright wit and brilliant machine-gun dialogue, The Marriage of True Minds sweetly explores modern love, undying idealism, and one cracked partnership that can't be sundered-from without or from within.

The buzz:
“Stephen Evans’ first novel, A Marriage of True Minds, is a funny, poignant, oddly beautiful book about three divergent life forms—animals, people, and lawyers. You will love it if you read it with a true mind.”—Kinky Friedman

“Evans demonstrates his playwright's mastery of dialogue and tension in his accomplished and whimsical first novel...”—Publishers Weekly

"Poignant and outrageous, moving and profound, Evans' delectable novel thrums with zesty dialogue and a memorably zany cast of irresistible characters."—Booklist

Check it out. The Marriage of True Minds is very funny, a fast read, and an all-around delicious little book that reaffirmed my belief in love, marriage, and the redeeming value of going off the deep end. The rightest words ever spoken between husband and wife are built beautifully into, yes, a balcony scene. After Nick climbs to Lena, reciting the Shakespeare sonnet from which the book takes its name, she says...
"Every time the phone rings, my first thought is that someone has found you somewhere, dead. My first thought. Every time."

Nick looked up at her. She stood just inside the doorway. The interior light flickered, revealing and concealing her silhouette.

"Is that a good thought or a bad thought?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered and vanished inside.

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