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I was asked to read and review Selfless by David Michael Slater at the start of the year. I agreed because the blurb sounded interesting and I liked the cover with the dradle tossed in with the D&D dice. Then work for the Census began and after that school and I set the review aside for far too long.
Selfless is an episodic coming of age tale of Jonathan Schwartz. He and his family live in Pittsburgh. It's the 1980s. He has a sister who wants to use him for psychological home-brew experiments. He has his grandparents who survived the Holocaust and are a world removed from his experiences in Pennsylvania. Finally there's his father, a famous author, now suddenly accused of plagiarism.
I liked the set up of the book. The situations were just a step or two outside of plausible, making them potentially humorous while still being somewhat credible. The main character is likable but flawed. He reminds me a little of the boy from Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. Plot-wise, it's a mixture of a standard Philip Roth novel and Pharmakon by Dirk Wittenborn.
And yet for all these positive features, the novel failed to come together for me. The book left me feeling that something was missing, like a nearly complete puzzle except for one lost piece.