The Unexpected and Fictional Career Change of Jim Kearns

by David Munroe
320 pages,
ISBN: 1550025678

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First Novels
by W.P. Kinsella

In The Unexpected and Fictional Career Change of Jim Kearns by David Munroe, we are warned that there is going to be a life-changing incident concerning Jim Kearns, a fortyish husband, father and labourer. He is a pretty good guy, very cynical, but not without good reason, and he has a wonderful sense of humor. "I had just dropped out of school for the second time in four years . . . I thought the existence of Jean Paul Sartre made France's worship of Jerry Lewis understandable." And, when an old college friend is told that Jim and his wife are writing a screenplay: "Ah, yes . . . The medium explored by those who've never bothered to learn how to write- or to be more blunt, the new lottery ticket of the masses." Unfortunately, the jacket copy tells us what the incident is, so reading the almost 100 pages until it happens is mostly a waste of time. So I may as well tell you. An arrogant second tier movie star forces a confrontation on Jim's job site. Jim punches him out. The studio spins the incident to make Jim look like a lunatic stalker. He is arrested and loses his job of 20 years. His wife Maddy, a good woman, looks for ways to preserve their family life and marriage. She gives Jim a list of tasks to perform, which includes: an hour of writing each day in a journal, getting to know a neighbor; and time spent getting to know his children. He tries to follow Maddy's instructions. He gets to know a neighbor who is a professional writer, though from the example of his work quoted I can't understand how. He makes friends with an old Scottish lady in the neighborhood. Like many first novelists he feels it's necessary to kill off a character, which adds nothing to the story. The writing is extremely verbose. There are many incidents that could have been cut, and the novel would have been vastly improved if it were 25% shorter.

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