Monday, November 1, 2021

How I'm Spending My Afterlife by Spencer Fleury

How I'm Spending My Afterlife
by Spencer Fleury
Published September 2021 by Woodhall Press
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, through TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary:

After you’re gone, what will they say about you? Alton Carver is about to find out. Alton’s got a problem: he’s under federal investigation for embezzling and securities fraud. Instead of spending the next three to five years behind bars, he’s got a plan: stage his own death, take the money he stole and light out for Central America, leaving behind wife Nicole and daughter Clara. But when he sticks around town long enough to watch his own funeral, he makes the unpleasant discovery that the life he’s leaving behind isn’t the life he thought he had. When he overhears the way his former colleagues talk about him now that he’s “gone,” Alton is forced to reconsider his self-image as a respected and admired pillar of the legal community. Then the shock of seeing Nicole in the arms of another man leads Alton to postpone his plan to run for the border. What comes next is a slow-burn train wreck, a tale of self-deception, revenge and bad decisions.

My Thoughts: 
Somewhere I read this book described as a thriller. I definitely wouldn't define it as a thriller. To my way of thinking, How I'm Spending My Afterlife is a dark comedy. 

As a debut, this book shows a lot of promise. Fleury's writing is clever and humorous and he somehow manages to make you like Alton who is, truth be told, a very unlikable chap. He's the kind of guy who drives a Porsche then feels entitled to park it in two spaces. He buys the best bicycle and the gear for it then never puts more than a mile on it. He buys a vintage sport car but tires of the idea of fixing it up before he's done a thing to it. And he definitely, stole three million dollars and committed insurance fraud to cover it up. All of this might add up to a guy you can't stand but Alton is so lacking in self-awareness that you begin to feel a little bit sorry for him, especially when you find out that his wife's been cheating on him with a complete sleaze ball. Yes, he'd been a terrible husband but she wasn't that great a wife or mother. And Alton is a really great dad who always made time for his daughter even when he didn't do that for his wife. He adores his daughter and she adores him; kids are great judges of character, right? 

What didn't work as well for me was the pacing of the book. While the book moves back and forth between Alton's narration and Nicole's, we spend a good majority of the book in Alton's head. Unfortunately, while we're there, not much more happens than Alton feeling sorry for himself while he justifies what he's doing. I would have liked to see more fleshing out of the characters, more action instead - something that moved the story forward. 

That said, I raced through the parts that dragged because I just knew that this was going to end badly and I wanted to know just how. We know that both Alton and Nicole are "talking" to someone as we read their sides of the story and I really wanted to see who that was and why they were talking to those people. I couldn't help but hope that some kindly grandparent would show up at the last second to rescue little Clara   just as her parents were hauled off to jail. Forty pages from the end, I still wasn't sure how this was going to play out and I loved that Fleury could keep me guessing. 

As I said, a promising, if flawed debut that has enough going for it to convince me to read Fleury's followup. 

Thanks to the ladies at TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. For other opinions about this book, check out the full tour: 

Monday, October 11th: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, October 12th: @books_and_biceps9155

Thursday, October 14th: @shopcoffeekids

Friday, October 15th: @oomilyreads

Monday, October 18th: @annoying_sidekick_thoughts

Wednesday, October 20th: @whimsyreadswithshelby

Friday, October 22nd: @thebookishalix

Monday, October 15th: @bluntscissorsbookreviews

Wednesday, October 27th: @bathtubbookworm

Monday, November 1st: @jessicamap

Wednesday, November 3rd: Girl Who Reads

Thursday, November 4th:

About the author: 
Spencer Fleury has worked as a sailor, copywriter, record store clerk and economics professor, among other disreputable professions. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has previously appeared in outlets including Utne Reader, Ascent, and the anthology City by City: Dispatches from the American Metropolis. This is his first novel. He lives in San Francisco.

1 comment:

  1. I'm always down for a dark comedy! I have this one on my list so I'm hoping my library can get their act together and fill my request soon. :) Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours