Each of the novels in the California Quartet stands alone. There are linkages, but the story lines are independent. For example, the water tower climbing incident in Valley Boy (pp 81-86) is reported in Trio of Lost Souls (pp 128-129) but there is no connection at the story level. (at the end of this, find two reviews of Trio by Dennis Must and Max Everhart)
I intended for the Quartet to start with gifted adolescent boys on whom the world acts in a chaotic way [The Deification and Valley Boy], then shift to young men getting the tools they need to live in a complex world [The Book of Changes] followed by men who have lived and been wounded [Trio of Lost Souls] but who, despite their pain and anguish, know they can do more good together than they can do separately. So the principle of the Quartet is not to drag a cast of characters through four novels, but to “age the archetype”: ignorant boys aging into curious young men transforming into flawed adults. Trio of Lost Souls is the most political of the Quartet. Both The Deification and Valley Boy are centered on art. The Book of Changes is about rituals and initiations and the slow crawl out of ignorance into knowledge.
On September 29, 2015 at 7:00 PM there will be a reading and book signing for Trio at the University Bookstore in the U District.
Trio will go live this week here: Trio of Lost Souls
A Goodreads Review of Trio of Lost Souls by Dennis Must:
Trio of Lost Souls, the final installment of Jack Remick’s California Quartet, unfolds like the melodic, broad vibrato strains of a Sidney Bechet noir cinema score. The novel’s chiaroscuro narrative is a remembered one, with a mesmeric self-destructive killer hell bent on avenging injustice while in the thrall of two woman, one his gravely wounded wife, a concert pianist, and another garbed in the shade of lust. But just as Bechet’s improvisational voice is uniquely his, so too are Remick’s pronounced rhythmic textures, his mastery of a theme, recasting it, then luring it back into itself, or onto a dream sequence where the identities unexpectedly shift . . . yet the storyline is ever present, refrain-like and beguiling. “We know this will end badly, we say to ourselves. But play it again in your inimitable way.”
Trio of Lost Souls is that haunting lament of those “whose dreams have cost them” implicit in each of the California Quartet’s coming-of-age stories preceding it.
Dennis Must, author of two novels: Hush Now, Don’t Explain and The World’s Smallest Bible, plus two short story collections: Oh, Don’t Ask Why and Banjo Grease. Dennis is the winner of Dactyl Foundation Fiction Award for 2015.
By Max Everhart on July 16, 2015
Back to the part about this being a simple story. The Kerouac-esque vibe of the narrative is both familiarly satisfying and oddly foreign, and I often stopped to re-read passages of description for the sheer pleasure of the language and attention to detail. Remick knows California, its people and landscapes the way, for instance, Jim Harrison knows Montana, or Ron Rash knows the Appalachian Mountains. Like all good road novels, there is a very strong sense of place, and as I turned pages, I came to know California, began to experience it through the eyes of Bill Vincent. Which brings me to another aspect I particularly enjoyed: the protagonist. In the hands of a lesser writer, Vincent could have easily come across as a caricature, but he doesn’t, and that is a testament to Remick’s powers as a novelist. Through some type of alchemy that most writers simply do not possess, Remick manages to portray Bill Vincent as an often-talked-about-but-rarely-realized well-rounded character, and I think he achieves this, partially, with another skill a lot of writers don’t have: restraint. Adhering closely to Hemingway’s iceberg principle of character development, the reader sees only a small portion of who and what Bill Vincent is, and the rest is left up to the imagination. That takes trust and active participation by the reader, two things I prize highly of any writer, especially a novelist. To put a coda on Bill Vincent, I think what really drew me in was how Vincent, who is essentially a decent man, started off by running from the police, but ends up running on instinct. Although Vincent clearly loves his wife Claire, and he deeply regrets that he had to kill those men, he is, at heart, a seeker. Perhaps I’m projecting myself onto the page, but I do believe there is a small part of every man who secretly wonders if he would be up to the challenge of meting out justice for the woman he loves. And, of course, many men often fantasize about hitting the road and living off one’s wit.
Bottom line, the still waters of Trio of Lost Souls run deep. If you’re a fan of Jim Harrison, Ron Rash, or even Cormac McCarthy this book is definitely worth a read. Recommended.