Editor's Note: Cascade Patch celebrates its first anniversary this month. This piece, by book reviewer Carla Mannings, is one of today's "Our First Year" features. It first ran July 27, 2011.
Curtis Bunn’s most recent novel, “A Cold Piece of Work” is a well-written story of a man who avoids committed relationships. The story explores whether this type of man can be redeemed, changed and have a healthy love relationship.
The book begins with a scene that sets the stage for the main character, Solomon Singletary. He and one of his “victims,” Michele Williams, are making passionate love. During the act, Michele wants Solomon to declare his love, of which, he does not confess.
Instead, after she is asleep, Solomon walks out of the door with no intention of ever seeing her again. In fact, without her knowledge, he has taken job in another city, and moves from Washington, D.C., to Atlanta.
Once in Atlanta, Solomon has many women in his life, but none that he will commit to. His multiple relationships comprise of “booty call” women who all supposedly understand their place in his life. Even though he is emotionally damaging these women, he is recusing himself by saying that he is honest with them and letting them know from the beginning that he cannot be “caught."
While I won’t give too much of the story away, I will say that Michele returns in his life. Now, he must face himself and his actions. Does he run away from love? Is he willing to commit to the woman he loves? Is he willing to admit it to her? Is he willing to trust another person and have an intimate loving relationship? Is he willing to acknowledge that his actions damage women and seek forgiveness?
From Michele’s perspective, can she forgive him for walking out on her? Can she ever trust him again? All of these questions and more are explored in the story.
Also, there are other topics that Bunn’s explores, but I don’t want to give too much of the story away.
Many of us can relate to this novel. Most women have experienced a man such as Solomon at least once in their lives. We as women will try to change this type of man; will say that we are the exception and he will change for us; will fool ourselves - while there is no real relationship here (it is actually a series of booty calls at his convenience), will disillusion ourselves and our friends, saying ‘that’s my man.'
Men can relate to this book. Many either are or have been a “Solomon” at least once in their lifetime. Or they have a “Solomon” type friend. In Atlanta, where the ratio (or the perception of the ratio) of women to men is too shameful to quote, many men have the attitude ‘she’s attractive and I like her, but if she won’t put up with what I have or don’t have to offer, there is a line of women who will.'
There are many reasons why I enjoyed Bunn’s novel. He is a great story teller. He opens up with a punch, pulls back, and slowly lets the story unfold. The author uses everyday language, however, so I did not feel that he was talking down to the reader. There are also a few surprises and twists and turns in the novel.
I believe that you, as the reader, will become emotionally involved as the story unfolds. You will form opinions, sympathize with the characters, get angry, and celebrate their successes.
I highly recommend “A Cold Piece of Work” as a must-read novel. In fact, this is a great preview to the discussion of men/women relationships that is much needed in our community. Bunn, are you ready to facilitate this discussion? Let us know when and where and we will be there.
Curtis Bunn is an award-winning journalist and former Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports reporter who has evolved into a critically-acclaimed author. His novel, “Baggage Check,” ascended to number one on Essence Magazine’s bestseller list.
Bunn frequents, patronizes and supports many businesses and book clubs in the Cascade neighborhood.