Helping Howard (Paperback)
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Helping Howard explores the fraught lifetime marriage of a straight older man, his younger gay wife, and the daughter that survives them.
An anti-romantic romance, this book tells the tale of The Author who awakens Howard into consciousness in order to become her accomplice in figuring out what happens next. Their ongoing dialogue pushes the story forward through quarrelsome, humorous, psychological cliffhangers. Playing with, and exposing, the creative process adds another dimension to the narrative as The Author creates a relationship with her main character, which in turn, reflects on who she is.
Helping Howard is about people struggling with understanding their own barriers to achieving and sustaining intimacy. It's a complex story of human longing and unmet desire.
"Through the lens of Howard's life and relationships, the novel intriguingly focuses on the psychology of its characters and what they reveal about the Author... indeed, as Schloss unlocks the pathos of her players, the reader comes to know the Author best of all...As playfulness turns to poignance and back to playfulness again, the novel reads a bit like John Updike by way of French director Michel Gondry, with all the heartbreak and panache that entails. A savvy postmodern novel that becomes an affecting confessional."- Kirkus Reviews
From the moment the Author hustles Howard out of bed and into the kitchen to make breakfast, we know we're on a literary adventure like no other. The Author wants her story; Howard wants to understand who he is and what he's done with his one wild and precious life. By turns comic, poignant, lacerating and profound, HELPING HOWARD probes the complex and ever-changing nature of love, and seeks to understand, in the deepest way possible, the ties that bind. Schloss has written a remarkable story; hers is a nimble, inventive and wholly original voice. -Kitty Zeldis, author of Not Our Kind
What a gorgeous novel Romantic, deeply humane, astonishingly clever and moving - this is a love story between author and character that continually makes one gasp, even as it delivers great truths. Thank you, Sally Schloss, for writing it. -Bonnie Friedman, bestselling author of Writing Past Dark
In Sally Schloss's insightful and engrossing novel, an Author writes a novel while regularly checking in with its real-life titular character. Howard is a kind and singularly tolerant man who has greatly compromised himself within his marriage. He nervously waits as the Author unveils each new phase of his life. Their ongoing conversation affords Howard-and the reader-a unique chance to see how his choices have at once enriched and undermined him. Schloss's writing is meticulous. -Patricia Grossman, author of Radiant Daughter.
For those of you who delve into transactional dynamics as a profession this book is a fascinating must read. The characters engage in the all too typical tendencies of repeating the same patterns of behavior, thoughts, and feelings with their inevitable undesirable outcomes. The book sympathetically dramatizes how these underlying negative core beliefs affect these characters' lives over the course of their thirty-five-year marriage. -Robert Pazulinec Ed.D. Licensed Psychologist