Wednesday, March 21, 2012

After Annie by Michael Tucker

Herbie Aaron, the main character in Michael Tucker’s book After Annie, is not a likeable guy. He drinks, he smokes pot (while driving), he swears, and he fooled around on his dying wife Annie. Herbie and Annie are actors. Years ago, they starred in a hit television series together. Annie is now in the hospital, dying of cancer.

Despite the fooling around, Herbie and Annie are soul mates. Their daughter Candy thinks, “Her mom and dad have always inhabited a world unto themselves. When she was a little girl, it was like they were surrounded by a protective circle, a magic bubble that she could never penetrate.” The book opens as Herbie stops in a bar to drown his sorrows. He meets a girl – an interesting girl. Olive is an actress, bartending to make a living. When he visits Annie in the hospital, he tells her about the bartender. Annie insists that he ask Olive to come see her. Annie and Herbie have that kind of relationship.

Once Annie dies, we follow Herbie, Candy, and Olive as they deal with loss and changes in their relationships. Each struggles to find a path forward. Herbie decides to perfect his golf game. Olive gets a part in a production of Uncle Vanya. Candy works on her relationship with her boyfriend Maurice, who is the same age as her father.

After Annie is the first novel by actor Michael Tucker. They say you should write what you know, and Tucker appears to have done that. He and his wife Jill Eikenberry starred in the television show L.A. Law in the late 1980s-early 1990s. Eikenberry successfully battled breast cancer. This is an actor’s novel, and it shows. The situations feel real and the dialog rings true.

After Annie is a short book and a quick read. It’s not profound, just a brief glimpse over a few weeks into the lives of several people learning how to cope after a great loss. Readers of literary fiction are likely to enjoy this book.

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