A Good Man

A Good Man, Ani Katz's debut novel, depicts the unraveling of a supposedly "normal guy" from inside his corrupted psyche. Thomas Martin seems to have it all: a well-paying, creative job, a beautiful wife and a precocious child. He worked hard to build this life, so different from his traumatic and abusive childhood. Which is why Thomas is horrified and distraught when, piece by piece, his life begins to fall apart. Desperate to regain control over what he thought belonged to him, Thomas attempts to go back to the beginning and tell his story in a way that will make sense to himself and defend what he has done.

Contained, measured and colloquial, Thomas's first-person voice invites the reader into his story as casually as someone might invite a stranger to a drink. His story, he admits up front, is told in tangents, "images and scenes, borrowed and spliced, more real than reality." Yet, readers still hold onto his performance of normativity, desperate to see rationality instead of the inevitable, impending disaster. Katz uses her unreliable narrator to masterful effect, first to trick readers into believing his fiction and then to reveal just how deranged and fabricated everything he's said was from the start. Ultimately, A Good Man's most effective twist, if it can be called that, is that Tom's life was never within his control. Impeccably paced and simply stated, Katz's story of a man on the edge offers an effective and horrifying revelation. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

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