Four Corners of the Sky (Michael Malone)

Annie is a Navy pilot whose primary ambition in life is to accomplish whatever, whenever, however she wants...and fast. Burned into her memory is the day her father abandoned her in a strange small town with family she didn't know. An all-out con artist, her father Jack seems to only have one ambition himself...and that is not to get caught. 

Raised by her aunt and uncle, Annie's childhood was a unique but happy time. As an adult, she now sort of has it all together but is also sort of an absolute mess. This is compounded when Jack resurfaces in the family's life, perhaps dying (although, really, is he?) and undoubtedly in a heap of trouble with local, state, federal, and international governments. Jack's dragging Annie into his mess will either destroy or strengthen who she is, despite or maybe even because of who he is. 

I wished at least seven separate occasions that the thing would just END already and put me out of my misery. More than one scene likened itself to some random bit from A  Confederacy of Dunces, only light years away from Toole's endearing style of intentionality. Usually I'll abandon ship if a work is too weak (because life is too short to read bad books, can I get an amen?), but I wanted to stick this one out. Solely because it was so highly recommended by the local public library as a community read book, I held on. When I hit the last chapter, however, I was completely disappointed in the time I had wasted on it. 

The writing itself is, at times, powerfully raw. There are numerous sentences that are so strong, so beautiful, that they stand out as notable evidence of an author fulfilling his natural purpose. For every one of those, however, there are plenty others that are weakly underdeveloped and crying out for more work on the editing floor. Malone's talent is there and it is strong...but the book as a whole feels as though insufficient time and/or effort was spent editing the raw material and managing it into the masterpiece it could very well be. 

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