This novella was very different from the type of books I’ve been reading lately. Not chick lit. In fact, more like dick lit. The main character, the Irishman exiled in New York, John Glass, is impotent. In his marriage. In his journalistic career. In his life. He just can’t get it up for anything. Well, maybe just enough for his mistress, but even that has lost its zing and he can feel it fizzling out as he watches, ever the spectator, taking notes for the story. Glass says he’s not interested in people, but events. When the researcher he’s hired to dig up information on his father-in-law (an ex-CIA agent-cum billionaire also hailing from Ireland) is shot through the eye, Glass is interested. Not in the life of the dead researcher, but in the death. Like a crime story hack, Glass goes for the obvious suspect, his father-in-law, and, in so doing, proves his disinterest in people, particularly the people presumably closest to him, his wife and stepson. The last words of the book are spoken by Glass’ wife, who tells him, “It’s up to you, John…I’m sorry, but it’s up to you.”
The book jacket lies. This is not a story about crime. It’s not a story about solving crime. It’s not even a story about criminals. It’s a story about midlife crisis. About waking up one day and realizing that what has been important to you for decades now seems irrelevant. About wondering who you are in the face of an irrelevant past and, more importantly, who you are going to be for the next few decades. Glass answers none of those questions in the course of the brief 132 pages, but brings us back to the question and the problem–that’s it’s up to each of us to provide those answers.