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Travels and Travails of Small Minds Hardcover – October 1, 2017
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Review by Ben Arzate, June 8, 2017
Daniel Falatko returns with a hipster noir for his second novel.
Nathan is a temp worker currently assigned as a glorified secretary for the eccentric literature professor turned slumlord Dr. Behr. One day, Dr. Behr dumps an assignment on his desk with no explanation for it.
Nathan tries to unravel exactly what the hell the old man wants from him. He soon learns Dr. Behr is involved in a shady property deal involving a former colleague and a rich, fanatical devotee of Beatnik author Thomas Salanack. His assignment takes him from New York City to Northern England and, finally, to Eastern Europe.
Falatko’s second novel reads like a hipster noir. It’s got all the elements; the two-timing dame, the intrigue, the shady characters. Here, however, the anti-hero hangs out in barcades instead of smoke-filled bars, the two-timing dame sells her ex-boyfriends vinyl collection, and the mystery involves a collector of Beatnik author memorabilia.
I previously reviewed Falatko’s first novel, Condominium, and while I enjoyed the humor, I found the plot lacking with it being about a rich couple having existential problems. Travels and Travails of Small Minds retains the humor Falatko previously displayed while having a much more compelling plot. One scene earlier in the book is where Nathan accidentally pops Adderall thinking it’s anti-anxiety medication. This results in him going to work and running amok, cleaning and organizing the whole office.
The plot takes a little time to kick in, with Nathan spending a few pages meandering around New York. Once it does, it becomes a fun, hard-to-put-down read. Falatko keeps the mystery of Dr. Behr’s shady property deal interesting, even in spite of how silly it gets. I mean, the climax has Nathan running from an old, naked Oxford professor with the help of a couple of north English drunks. Goofy, yes, but goofy in a way that’s highly entertaining to read.
The book also includes illustrations with each chapter, but they aren’t very good. They’re very amateurish looking. Some are passable, but many just look laughably bad. This book deserved better if the publisher was going to go that route.
About the Author
Daniel Falatko is originally from Pennsylvania. He received his undergraduate degree from Kutztown University and went on to receive an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College. His critically acclaimed first novel, Condominium, was published in 2015. He lives and works in New York City. The publication of Travels and Travails Of Small Minds marks the completion of a daydream sparked in 2007 involving New York City real estate scams, age-challenged literature professors, dead beatniks, fictitious English villages named after wolves, and post-apocalyptic Moscow slums. Threading these disparate pieces together was a laborious undertaking, and the author hopes you enjoy these final results.
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