Entertainment » Books

Closer To Fine

by Kay Bourne
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Sep 5, 2008
Closer To Fine

Alexandra is puzzled by the cryptic message her therapist has left her: "you're missing a piece of yourself." He has died after a long fight against cancer so she cannot look to him for unraveling the statement.

She carries the slip of paper with these words on it in her pocket (and a small arsenal of pills sufficient to commit suicide yet, ironically, almost as a talisman against her ending her life) as she moves towards self-actualization in Meri Weiss's memorable debut novel Closer to Fine. Death and dying is central to the absorbing story. Yet far from being a morbid narrative, the novel is often amusing and always engrossing.

You may recognize the novel's title as a phrase from the Indigo Girls's song with its tantalizing lyrics by Emily Saliers "The Closer I am To Fine;" and the enormous LGBT following devoted to this pair of musicians suggests where Weiss's story is going. Even Weiss's straight forward writing style, with its currents of deeper concerns that propel a reader onward, takes a cue from such lines in the song as "there's more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line and the less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine."

The story, set in New York City for the most part, begins with Alexandra's moving into her older brother's penthouse apartment to care for him in his final struggle against the ravages of an HIV-related illness. The story then skips to four years later, as she tries to recover from the guilt-inspired trauma resulting from the emotional bombshell that was bonding with her brother for the first time when it was his dying hours and there was no future for the relationship. She fortunately gets emotional support from a friend from childhood Jax, whose declaring he is gay has alienated him from his father who now is dying, and from a friend she made in college Jordy, her best pal and apartment room mate. At the funeral for the therapist, Alexandra meets Tucker, the charming scion of a wealthy financier.

Meri Weiss has the happy gift of writing in a thoroughly engaging fashion so that the story of these voyagers navigating the shoals of their own lives becomes personal as if you too were part of their inner circle and the outcomes matter to you.

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