Out of Wedlock
Iguana Books (2022)
Reviewed by Rachel Deeming for Reader Views (10/2022)
Larry Lockridge’s novel, “Out of Wedlock” tells the story of Jess Freeman, a plastic surgeon based in New York and although he is older, well beyond teen years, this is almost like a rites of passage novel, a genre normally associated with much younger and less experienced characters. But there is no doubt that this is a book about the adult protagonist embarking on a voyage of discovery and this is mainly done through relationships.
Despite his fractured background of frequent foster homes, Jess has crafted a good life for himself, although he has yet to find someone significant with whom to share it. The reason for this is that Jess is not overly certain of what it is that he wants and so, the novel is framed around various women (and men) who Jess meets, some with whom he has affairs.
Don’t go into this book thinking that it is going to be heavy-going as it isn’t at all: it is light in tone and humour permeates every page in little asides and turns-of-phrase and I found myself at times chuckling at Lockridge’s insinuations and comparisons. However, don’t mistake lightness of tone for lack of depth as this is a thoughtful book, carefully constructed with recurring motifs and incidences that belie its perceived superficiality as it meanders through sex and eroticism.
There are many learned references throughout – poets, composers, writers, philosophers – and Jess’s particularly unique personality quirk allows an element of fantasy to the novel that lends it that extra something. That being said, I thought that more was going to be made of this in the book, especially with the comparison to Blake early in the novel and I was a little bit, but only marginally, disappointed that there wasn’t more about this as it progressed. It took a different direction, and this was stimulating but unexpected.
The dialogue between characters is sharp and the narrative never stutters in its flow; as a reader, you may wonder where it is heading, but it is never confusing, merely prompting curiosity, like all good books should.
I liked the way I felt reading it: amused but philosophical, like having your feet tickled whilst reading a thought-provoking text.