A Novel. In this darkly hilarious and moving novel, a bumbling Manhattan blueblood must rebuild his life after his marriage and business fail.
Arthur Camden’s greatest talents are for packing and unpacking suitcases, making coleslaw, and second-guessing every decision in his life. When his business fails and his wife leaves him—to pursue more aggressive men—Arthur finds that he has none of the talents and finesse that everyone else seems to possess for navigating New York society.
Arthur tries to reinvigorate his life with comic and tragic results: He dates women with no interest in him, burns down his Catskills fly-fishing club, runs afoul of the law in France, and disgraces himself before family members. Just when Arthur hits the depths of despair, an eccentric suitor (a woman who happens to resemble the model on Arthur’s vitamin bottles) helps him take a leap into a wonderful unknown.
Michael Dahlie’s novel digs into the consciousness of a self-doubting everyman—a man who, with a little inspiration, just might become something of a brilliant success.
In Dahlie's entertaining debut, Arthur Camden is a fly fisherman, devoted husband and father, and minor Manhattan socialite who would like nothing more than to avoid troubling introspection. Yet his slow botching of the family import-export business and the sudden dissolution of his marriage certainly have something to do with his bursting into tears at a meeting of the Hanover Street Fly Casters—a men's club founded by his great-grandfather—and declaring his steadfast love for its members. This display of emotion is only the first crack in his reputation, and a sojourn to his son's Colorado ranch begins a retreat to the safety of the club's restricted world, while sorting out a bevy of complex feelings he struggles to recognize, let alone process. In the balance is nothing short of his identity and self-worth, stakes that debut novelist Dahlie makes abundantly clear with light comic touches. Dahlie's dry and understated portrayal of old upper-crust Manhattan is as crisp and authentic as a well-made gin and tonic; the various turns of plot are swift and precise; and one is soon rooting for Arthur to get his groove back.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michael Dahlie won the 2006 Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s Creative Writing Contest. His fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, and Mississippi Review. He lives in New York City.