Book Review – Losses by Robert Wexelblatt

By Robert Wexelblatt
ISBN: 978-0615669649
BISAC: Fiction / Literary
Published by Vagabondage Press LLC
Published: September 2012 
82 Pages / 25,000 Words / Language: English
MSRP $8.95 Trade Paperback / $3.99 Digital 
“A single father who is a new IRS agent, his cherished and imaginative little girl, a divorced woman having second thoughts about motherhood, a couple who think two ways about becoming parents, a mysterious and crooked financial wizard — these are the people from whose relationships, enterprises, gains, and losses this story is woven.”
That brief description hardly captures the essence of this book, which is at times laugh-out-loud funny and then so deeply poignant one wants to pause and just absorb the message. 
Augusta, Gus, is the child who brightens and lightens the story when she appears, yet also has some of the sage wisdom of an adult. “Being grown up is pretty confusing, Daddy,” she said with a droll Socratic grin.
This is the opening of this delightful book:  “One Tuesday afternoon in late March, I came home to find Augusta on the living room rug drawing furiously with marking pens. Like most children, Gus was a first-rate abstract expressionist up ’til the age of three, whereupon she was made into a fifth-rate realist. Now she likes to create what she calls ‘designs’.”
What an engaging introduction to a character that makes you want to read the rest of the story. I know I could not resist, and the rest of that opening scene sets a tone for the relationship between father and daughter that is close and flavored with humor.
The story is told in first person from the POV of the father, and the emotional ups and downs he experiences due to complications at his job, threats from his ex-wife to take Gus, and the problems his friend and co-worker shares with him are extreme. Nothing is held back when it comes to the emotional responses, and when the book is finished, the reader understands the title choice.
This is not a book to read looking for the commercial happy-ever-after ending. Life deals some harsh blows all around, but somehow is is satisfying just to share this journey with these people.
A truly literary work, I enjoyed the use of language and the carefully crafted narrative. There were many wonderful, unique descriptions, and one of my favorites was: “The sun hung in a basket from a hook driven into a whitewashed sky.”

What is your favorite thing about a recent book you’ve read?

Robert Wexelblatt is Professor of Humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies. An accomplished fiction writer, his essays, stories, and poems have appeared in a wide variety of journals. His most recent book, the novel Zublinka Among Women, was awarded First Grand Prize for Fiction and First Prize for General Fiction/Novel by the Indie New Generation Book Awards. 

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