Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter
Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter by Michael J. White
(Putnam, February 2010, Hardcover, $24.95)
Fine writers live and learn in Iowa in abundance. Rarely, however, are their stories set here. After all, hogs outnumber people, and hogs don’t buy books. And most literary agents and publishers rarely set foot west of the Hudson, despite their pretense of sophistication and worldliness. For those of us native and adoptive Iowans who read the few novels whose authors are brave enough to place their characters on our rich soil, it is a delight to watch the stories unfold in places we know like the back of our hand. And we are grateful that these authors have braved our cornfields, coffee shops, and wrestling mats to tell universally meaningful stories in our humble neighborhood. Think Bill Bryson, Jane Smiley, Ray Kinsella, and Peter Hedges here.
New among this esteemed company is Michael J. White, author of Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot like Laughter, who tells a compelling and multilayered story of teen and twentysomething love and tragedy in the suburbs of Des Moines. And like the authors mentioned above, does it with a sense of humor that is subtle and priceless.
Reviewed by Bob Leonard