My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: “Q, Quentina Elizabeth Deveril, is the love of my life.”
Shortly before his wedding, the unnamed hero of this uncommon romance is visited by a man who claims to be his future self and ominously admonishes him that he must not marry the love of his life, Q. At first the protagonist doubts this stranger, but in time he becomes convinced of the authenticity of the warning and leaves his fiancée. The resulting void in his life is impossible to fill. One after the other, future selves arrive urging him to marry someone else, divorce, attend law school, leave law school, travel, join a running club, stop running, study the guitar, the cello, Proust, Buddhism, and opera, and eliminate gluten from his diet. The only constants in this madcap quest for personal improvement are his love for his New York City home and for the irresistible Q.
A unique literary talent, Evan Mandery turns the classic story of transcendent love on its head, with an ending that will melt even the darkest heart.
My take: This is nearly a 4 star book. I found the writing to be clever and the dialogue to be particularly fun. The author is very well read and provides intriguing ideas for the reader to mull over regarding the roads less traveled. At times, I found the writer's work to be absolutely profound but not in the prominent ideas. It was more in the periphery thought process of the protagonist where the juiciest material occurred. I loved the way he summarizes the workings of the bully and how the bully forces the world around him to conform to his reality but is much more articulate than I was just now.
The premise of the story is that the unnamed protagonist that, for the sake of simplicity, I am going to name Evan (after the author) meets a marvelous young woman and they hit it off immediately. There is humor, depth, and a sweet romance that seems destined to play out for the rest of their lives until "Evan" shows up as an older version to warn him what will happen if he marries Q.
At the same time, Evan is up for tenure. He needs to publish an original work. Working from the same premise as his real self, he chooses to pursue a book about Freud and what if he had followed a different path that he seemed destined to continue but didn't. Would Freud have still gone into psychoanalysis? His original novel was also built on hypotheticals and what-would-have-happened-ifs. Clever at first, I lost interest quickly as the books are recapped.
Back to "Evan's" life, his future self continues to pop up to tell him how the future will unfold if he doesn't do something different. Then, the future self tells him what to do differently, costing him a great deal of money and time. In essence, the author is exploring String Theory only in a much easier context. Not that I can explain String Theory or Einstein's Theory of Relativity but the author also uses examples from the Twilight Zone and Star Trek. Good call.
So the question remains - does what we do really change the end result? Is there an end result or is it just random anyway? Could we do things better or is it simply different. I really did enjoy the lively discussion at the Thanksgiving Dinner and, in particular, the thoughts on the senile professor.
I enjoyed the book and the thoughts presented. I struggled with some of the points of reference as my experiences do not reflect the author's. There were a lot of Jewish inside jokes I didn't understand. I also thought the book was about 50 pages too long. There were stretches were I was bored and others where I was riveted.