Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Now You See Him
A Novel

by Eli Gottlieb

      I so want to rave about Eli Gottlieb's new novel, Now You See Him. It is elegantly written. Naturally. It's by Gottlieb.

Trouble is, if I rave, my reading audience will think I've lost my edge. So, here's the thing. I'm going to tell you why you will think I've lost my edge, but before I do, I'm going to tell you that if you love good literature with a little bite of mystery, you must - absolutely must - hang in there to the end of this book.

Now, here is where you are going to have trouble hanging on. Gottlieb's protagonist just isn't very likeable. His day to day activities are boring. We don't sympathize much with his petty day to day problems, his excuses for being self-absorbed. Perhaps he is too much like people in general. That's part of the design, too. There's really no help for it. But you won't see that until the end.

Next up: The story is told in first person by Nick Framingham. He's the protagonist but then, so is his best friend, Rob Caster, now dead, along with Kate, his girlfriend. Rob Caster is the real personality kid and seems to be a protagonist in absentia. Because Gottlieb chose to tell the story this way (and there are good reasons why) this mystery must somehow be not only related by Framingham, it must be made credible by Framingham.

That's a good trick if you can do it. And only a writer with Gottlieb's dexterity could pull it off. But, in the doing of it, the story loses something. Framingham didn't witness the murder or much else, really. He must say things like "that much we can surmise" and "Kate doubtless greeted him." Needless to say, we lose not only immediacy but momentum. Again, there seems no other way around this because the story - the character arc - at the root, is Framingham's. You'll see why at the end.

So, I recommend this book, indeed rave about it for those who love literary. For those who find phrases like "the retaining wall of a woman's heart" and "salting a sponge with Ajax," you'll find the long wait to the end wholly worthwhile. Original words, poetry really. That and the darn near perfect dialogue will hold you through until that ending I spoke about, nicely foreshadowed (we are talking Gottlieb here!). It is well worth the wait.

The Book

William Morrow / HarperCollins
January 2008
Fiction / General
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The Reviewer

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Reviewed 2008
NOTE: Reviewer Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the award-winning author of This is the Place, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, and a chapbook of poetry titled Tracings, winner of the Military Writers Society of America's Award of Excellence and named Top Ten Best Reads by the Compulsive Reader. She is also the author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books including The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success and The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't, the 2004 winner of USA Book News' Best Professional Book of the Year and Irwin awards.
© 2008