This has been a good day.
Daily Candy, an enormously popular website that everyone seemed to know about prior to the review with the exception of me, ran their review on their front page and made it the subject of their Daily Candy email blast, which goes to seemingly half the people I know (unbeknownst to me).
Daily Candy said:
“We all know if you spot a mysterious bag underneath a bench, you should probably move away quickly and call the authorities.
Unless it’s full of old videotapes. In which case, you should go home and watch every last one. At least, that’s what Milo Slade, protagonist in Matthew Dicks’s new novel, Unexpectedly, Milo, does.
The earnest voyeur discovers a video diary belonging to a young woman (whom he dubs Freckles) and quickly becomes fixated on her best friend, Tess, who ran away when the two were just teenagers and was never heard from again. Slade decides Tess is alive and embarks on a cross-country road trip to find her — all the while battling a demon or two (or twenty) of his own, including the recent dissolution of his marriage and a severe case of OCD.
Sound depressing? It’s not. Dicks manages to make us laugh out loud with crazed characters, like Linda, the pancake saleswoman, and Macy, a busty Southern waitress. The end result: an adventure of a summer read you’ll never put down.”
The Wall Street Journal said:
“The contemporary Connecticut of Matthew Dicks's amusing and engaging second novel, "Unexpectedly, Milo," is a much more whimsical place than Mr. Yoshida's Japan, yet it is a slightly disturbing place, too.
Mr. Dicks's peculiar protagonist—Milo Slade, a 33-year-old home health-care aide—suffers from habitual, unignorable impulses to do any number of odd, "pressure-releasing" actions, from twisting open the vacuum-sealed tops of jelly jars (he keeps a supply on hand in his car trunk) to inducing others to speak aloud in spontaneous conversation a random word ("loquacious," for instance) that has popped into Milo's head.
Milo's odd urges have plagued him his whole life: "He couldn't help but attribute them to some other force, one he often imagined as a German U-boat captain on duty somewhere in his brain, gray uniform adorned with gold epaulets, standing ramrod straight, eyes pressed into a periscope, capable of watching Milo's every move, just waiting to twist the valves and raise the levers that would increase the pressure of the demand at the appropriate moment."
By chance, Milo finds a stash of confessional videocam tapes made by a woman he doesn't know who feels seems to feel responsible for the disappearance and possible death of a former high-school classmate of hers. The obsessive, empathetic Milo determines to find the missing woman and relieve the camcorder-confessor of her long-time guilt: "He couldn't begin to imagine the joy and the sense of relief that she would feel on realizing that she was free from her burden."
Whether Milo himself will ever achieve a comparable equilibrium and happiness is part of the cosmic mystery surrounding this unexpectedly endearing hero, whose self-chosen motto is: "I'm not crazy, I'm just colorful."
My wife said:
Things are a little surreal up in here...