A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris [7/10]

American author Joshua Ferris’s 2007 debut, Then We Came to the End, delighted me wth its brilliance, and I relished his subsequent two novels. ”A Calling for Joshua Barnes” meshes skewering satire with a meditation on life’s purposes, whilst playfully teasing the reader with metafictional twists. Charlie Barnes is a rapscallion, a man of ideas, a contradictory capitalist, as well as a prodigious ex-husband and the father, beloved or otherwise, of sons and daughters. In the wreckage of the GFC, suspecting a cancer, at the tail end of life, he flails at existential options and tilts at reconciliations and new starts. His storyteller son is there to help, but the story of Charlie is ambiguous. Ferris is an exuberant stylist and somehow manages to combine savaging Charlie and rendering him loveable. Dialogue zings, there are chuckles aplenty, and Charlie’s twilight world glows with realism. In the end, A Calling for Charlie Barnes offers myriad pictures of life’s meaning, the relationships between parents and children, and the baffling nature of story. Recommended.

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