Friday, April 19, 2013

"'American Elsewhere' conjures up echoes of the best works of Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. ...manages to surprise, terrify and move the reader." --Los Angeles Times (No Wonder Hank Likes It)


Ex-cop Mona Bright has been living a hard couple of years on the road, but when her estranged father dies, she finds she's had a home all along: a little house her deceased mother once owned in Wink, New Mexico.

And though every map denies Wink exists, Mona finds they're wrong: not only is Wink real, it is the perfect American small town, somehow retaining all the Atomic Age optimism the rest of world has abandoned.

But the closer Mona gets to her mother's past, the more she understands that the people in Wink are very, very different - and what's more, Mona begins to recognize her own bond to this strange place, which feels more like home every day.

Hank says:
"When Mona Bright's estranged father dies, leaving her a house she didn't know her long-dead mother had owned in the small town of Wink, New Mexico, you can pretty much figure it's not going to go smoothly. For one thing, it's not that easy even to find Wink, but when she manages to get there, the arrival of a newcomer in a bright red car distracts attention from a funeral, because--well, there are never, ever newcomers there. For another, the first chapter has shown us a distraught group of criminals escaping (minus one of the contingent) from a house in Wink their boss sent them to on a mission, and it proved to be Just Not a Normal House on the inside. 
After townspeople grudgingly help her locate her mother's house, she decides to take up residence, and see what she can find out about the end of her mother's life. No one is at all forthcoming, but she starts to fit in a little bit, in spite of people's resistance. With some effort, the prevailing attitude of Not Talking About That begins to peel away, and Mona gets an inkling about the strange forces in control of Wink, and how her mother's history fits in. Bennett steadily builds the suspense to a satisfying, confrontational climax I don't want to spoil. However, I think we can all be glad that nonfictional families pretty much stick to being dysfunctional in a single dimension! During various parts of the story, I was reminded of things I've liked in books by Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and especially Clive Barker, but I did not find it to be annoyingly derivative."

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