My Name on a Grain of Rice
by Richard Voigt
Atmosphere Press

"I thought that I should buy one of them a handgun; a domestic murder would probably be a good solution for everyone in the building, including the victim. "

Written in the first person, a young man named Harry shares a capsule of his life. It involves momentous decisions, or perhaps in the grand scheme of things, conclusions of little import. That's a dichotomy dependent upon how one looks at the world and each individual's place in it, which is what Harry is doing in this novel. Readers are the beneficiaries of his intellectual and emotional struggles.

Bored in his office-bound job at a computer software company, Harry acquiesces to his mercurial friend Sterling's suggestion that they both resign. They do so with no formal plans other than celebrating at their local bar. With the same lack of anything remotely resembling planning—save for a desire to do something of worth—they embark upon potential careers as piledrivers on a construction crew. Sterling's connections enable them to become apprentices. But nothing in the backgrounds of these college-educated, experience-lacking amateurs has prepared them for the kind of men they'll be working with and the potentially dangerous jobs they'll be doing.

As days become weeks, then months, Harry meets and falls for Minnie, the sister of a piledriver. Her family is part of the old-school working class, while Harry's is new-money and recently divorced. The differences in their upbringings perplex Harry, as most everything does, but his feelings for her can't be denied. Their relationship and impending tragedy will test him mightily.

Author Voigt is an exceptional writer. His intellect, understanding of human nature, and empathy emerge in chapter after chapter. His protagonist, who has a seemingly ongoing analysis paralysis, is humanized by Voigt's wit, wisdom, and innate ability to employ restraint where lesser scribes would embellish. This is a novel worth reading for the writer's voice as well as his story. Both are quite memorable.

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