Excelsior by Randall Silvis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bloomhardt--we never learn his Christian name--is a real jerk. He bullies his wife, loves his son but manages to always hurt him somehow, and works in the accounting department of a steel mill, where his soul-shriveled co-workers pass the time by playing practical jokes on each other and locking the men's room door with a padlock because the last guy blew his brains out in there and they're all afraid they'll do the same thing at the first opportunity.
But wait, there's more: Bloomhardt works Saturdays at a mortuary, where he is supposed to be selling monuments, but instead has sex with his boss's wife. He gets caught--and chased around a cemetery with a chain saw. He has to wait for dark to wander home, because the boss took all his clothes with him and delivered them to Bloomhardt's wife.
But wait, it's even worse than that. When his wife begs HIM to forgive HER for not being a good enough wife, and therefore driving him to do this terrible thing, he decides he'll show her, and move out. Thus his (well-deserved) descent begins.
Bloomhardt commences an odyssey in which he moves into the world's shoddiest divorced-guy apartment, spends an evening looking for, and finding, his co-worker The Goathead, who has expired in a back booth at the world's rankest gin joint, and trying--always clumsily and unsuccessfully--to get back the life he scorned at the novel's beginning. His wife's new assertiveness-trained feminist friends form a Wall Of Scorn, and when he can manage to get past them, his wife is no longer the doormat he knew and abused, but rather a woman who wants a divorce and takes out a restraining order on him.
Despair and disaster don't get much funnier than this. Recommended.
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