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Peripheral Involvement Paperback – February 13, 2014
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About the Author
Bob Waldner was born and raised in New Jersey, before heading off to Duke University and the University of Michigan Law School. He practices law in New York, where he lives with his wife, Erinn, and his daughters Maureen and Madeleine. His short fiction has appeared, or is scheduled to appear, in The Saturday Evening Post, The Satirist, Pinball, theEEEL and Mulberry Fork Review.
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The set-up of the story in Peripheral Involvement is engaging, clever, and the author makes us care what happens to Jack. His adventure as a 24-year-old trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life is a great yarn. Then the story jumps to fifteen years later. Jack is a partner in a New York law firm when the crisis from his past pops up again and initiates intense self-reflection for Jack that includes his analysis of the investment banking community and the unfairness of the perpetuation of the power base of the very rich in America. All this would be fair game if it fit neatly into the plot, but the problem here is that as interesting as the plot is, the resolution, such as it is, proves very unfulfilling to the reader. The key question raised in the first half of the story – one that Jack specifically asks for but is denied – is ignored in the second half, even when the character who has that knowledge and has every reason to finally tell Jack the big secret shows up. The reader is left in the dark, although the innuendo that there was a massive conspiracy remains a possibility. Despite these deficiencies, Mr. Waldner’s writing is top shelf, the characters are interesting, and the story keeps the reader interested to the end. In his next novel, hopefully, the author will have a more complete story to tell, and I’ll be waiting to read it.
Is Jack someone we all aspire to be? certainly not. He embodies many flaws present in all of us, important aspects we should all examine in our lives. He is 3-dimensional and at the end of the day, the whole book is about his personal journey and self-realizations.
Does the author tie everything up with a neat bow on top at the end? No. THAT'S THE POINT! If that's what you are looking for, you can go somewhere else. But it leaves you with hope, and the idea that Jack may not be a lost cause. And at the end of the day, I am rooting for him.
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