The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living BOOK review [Martin Clark]



Book Reviews
The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living BOOK review [Martin Clark]
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Apr 11, 2000, 02:25

THE MANY ASPECTS OF MOBILE HOME LIVING by Martin Clark; Knopf, 2000 

This book is amazing. I had to keep reminding myself that it's a mystery because The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living is about so much more. Sure people are murdered, stuff gets stolen, there's lots of courtroom action. But the sum of the book's parts equal something much greater than a traditional mystery novel.

Judge Evers Wheeling is an unhappy man and he doesn't even know it. He has a tedious job that gives him no satisfaction, his wife is cheating on him—a fact he is unaware of because they live in separate towns. Most of his entertainment consists of staring at a bug zapper while he passes the bong with his brother and friends. Evers' life changes when a woman approaches him one day on his way to work and asks him for help. This woman, Ruth Esther, tells Evers that she, her father, and her brother have stolen some money from a drug dealer and she needs his help to get it back. It seems that Ruth Esther's brother was arrested while they were trying to escape the scene of their crime. In the interest of fair play, Ruth Esther's father takes the money and hides it, so that it's unavailable to everyone until the brother, Artis, does his time. He leaves the location of the stashed cash in the form of three clues, and each one of the three is given a clue for safekeeping. The father dies and his clue passes to Ruth Esther. The brother Artis gets out of jail, but is brought up on drug possession charges before Ruth Esther has the chance to see him again to get the last clue. Artis is due to appear in court to face his new charges before Evers, and Ruth Esther asks him to let her brother off so that they may retrieve the stolen treasure. In exchange for this favor Ruth Esther offers part of the stolen cash to Evers and promises to let Evers accompany them to retrieve the hidden money, wherever it may be. Evers agrees to help Ruth Esther, but the voyage to retrive the money is just the beginning of his adventures in the novel. The money turns out to be only a small part of the hidden treasure, and everything about Evers' life begins to change.

What I love about the writing in this book is that Clark takes chances. He takes what other writers would have their characters do and say, and turns it on its ear:

Evers slept poorly and woke up with a headache and plaintive stomach. When he looked around Pauletta's house, she was gone. No note, no explanation, no car. It occurred to him that he had tried to have sex with almost every woman he had met since leaving his wife. He decided that was healthy, correct, moral, just, and sane.”

The characters in the book are full and alive. They seem as real as your cousins or your friends back home. The narrative draws you into its world, and even when supernatural elements are introduced to the story, they seem plausible and real. The Many Aspects is the kind of book that you don't want to end. The kind of book you would like to inhabit because it is better and brighter than real life.

-Eric Frost

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