four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
34-May-June-2008
By: 
Eli Gottlieb
user_rating: 
0

A-Now You See HimRob Castor, a gifted short story writer and New York City literary darling, inexplicably shoots his girlfriend and then turns the gun on himself. Hit particularly hard by the writer’s death is the former childhood friend he left behind in upstate New York, Nick Framingham, whose life begins to disintegrate after he hears the news. Nick doesn’t show up for work, he ignores his parents and two young sons, and he disgustedly rebuffs his wife while he embarks on an affair with Rob’s equally disturbed sister Belinda. Overwhelmed by grief, Nick fixatedly mines the past for answers while he slowly loses his grip on the present.
Morrow. 272 pages. $22.95. ISBN: 0061284645

Charlotte Observer 4.5 of 5 Stars
"This book is so beautifully written that if you are a lover of language you probably won’t want to rip through the pages to find out what happens next. Instead, you may find yourself lingering over the sentences, dazzled at Eli Gottlieb’s masterful and at times heart-rending way with words." Pat MacEnulty

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Suspenseful novels usually carry secrets, but few do so with the literary grace and intensity of Now You See Him. Eli Gottlieb of Boulder has crafted a work that is unique in that it propels the reader through the narrative using the nuance of character, not the sledgehammer of plot." Robin Vidimos

USA Today 4 of 5 Stars
"The writing is deft and sharp, and his characters so real and vivid they could be people you know. And he delivers a whopper of an ending, one that isn’t neat or pretty but is totally satisfying and unexpected." Donna Freydkin

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Nick doesn’t answer the most interesting questions about Rob. What he does do, though—and remarkably well—is present a heartfelt picture of enduring friendship and inconsolable, debilitating grief, even if that grief is complicated by jaw-dropping revelations." Danielle Trussoni

Vancouver Sun 4 of 5 Stars
"Now You See Him is a haunting and affecting portrait not only of an act of unthinkable violence but also of deeply personal grief and the self-questioning that follows a psychologically scarring event." Robert J. Wiersema

Toronto Globe and Mail 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Gottlieb has managed to rig for his characters a mess of lies, deception and betrayal, which we enjoy watching them sort out … because some part of them always reminds us of some part of ourselves. … Sometimes, however, it feels as if Gottlieb is explaining too much about Nick’s feelings; we’d be happier if he were to show us even more aimlessness, confusion and desperation in the moment, rather than constantly dipping his authorial brush into the paint pot of Nick’s past in order to illustrate his present." William Kowalski

Entertainment Weekly 3 of 5 Stars
"This is a fast, haunting read with Days of Our Lives-style revelations coming every few pages toward the end. But someone really should’ve sat Gottlieb down and had a chat about his embarrassing love scenes, which are full of metaphors about nozzles and sprockets. Ick." Chris Nashawaty

Critical Summary

Eli Gottlieb’s suspenseful second novel looks intensely at the bonds of male friendship. Hailed as "the work of a master" (Denver Post) and "a brilliant work of art" (Charlotte Observer), Now You See Him is propelled by its stark, lucid language and skillfully drawn characters. Nick’s grief and confusion are genuinely moving, and readers will easily sympathize with his long-suffering wife and family. Though the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Vancouver Sun thought the novel overwritten and predictable in places and Entertainment Weekly claimed it devolved into the realm of the soap opera toward the end, most critics praised it as a poignant and compelling account of lives torn apart by secrets, lies, and madness.

Also by the Author

The Boy Who Went Away (1997): Award Star Rome Prize. In this touching coming-of-age novel set in 1967, young Denny Graubert attempts to make sense of his parents’ crumbling marriage and self-destructive behavior as they fight to keep the State of New Jersey from institutionalizing his autistic older brother.