The Dunning Man: Kevin Fortuna
Six stories different yet linked in every way as each main character believes that he is superior to that of everyone else. Each person unskilled yet living within their own world thinking that they are brighter, smarter and wiser than others and rating their abilities higher than they should. Unable or just plain inept you the reader will have to decide as you learn more about each one, their struggles within themselves to be recognized, accepted and deal with situations in some cases orchestrated by others. Some you will learn cannot deal with confrontations. Some you will learn are totally delusional and some are plain insane. Most if not all fail to understand or realize their own level of competence or incompetence and most if not all have no awareness of their shortcomings. Meet Connor as he enters the Port Authority and is off to Atlantic City hoping to patch it up with Ursula. But, on the way we realize that he is easily distracted by the scenery, those he encounters along the way and criticizes and analysis not only people but every situation. His gate is Number 1 and as he approaches it he sees a young mother and her four kids. Describing each one in his own way, as he sees them he fails to see them for who they are. Next he sees a young brunette and assumes that she is stuck up just by the way he describes her mannerisms and assumes things about her from her appearance. But, his job or role is to get to the right gate to meet Ursula and the bus leaves in four and a half minutes and he has been unfocused and might be late. Things change and Connor decides for reasons you will learn to head for Penn Station instead. Describing each person he meets as lost souls rather than realizing he is even more lost than the rest. Getting a ticket, not getting a seat, stating he has no time for losers, a girl whose head is in a book and he realizes what he thinks is the Unattainable. Rationalizing his movements and feelings every step of the way until we finally meet him at the close of the story titled Dead speaking to a man whose wisdom might elude dear Connor but whose words snap him out of it. Does he meet Ursula? Where does he wind up read Dead and find out as the author takes us next a festive occasion that uncovers a hidden truth that a wife will learn about her husband.
Within this second story we meet Rose Casey the wife of a man shunned for many years. A wedding reception would reveal what happened many years before. A husband that was fired from the very club where the reception was an incident that cost him it all. Brian, the man in question allegedly dug up the grave of a Nazi war criminal hoping to take the gold Rolex off of his wrist and use the money to pay off his debts. As the main character Ms. Casey tells the story and relates the events she finds herself speaking with a man named Rodney and learns what really happened. As the truth is revealed and Brian’s presence is known what happens will not only surprise readers, Brian but those who invited them too. Just what does Rodney reveal? What did Brian do that cost him quite a bit? Lost souls, judging someone by their actions and never really finding out the truth. Weddings and Burials: Who celebrates? Whose death is real?
The third story is titled Sullapalooza and it focuses on the relationship between a man named Sully and his brother. When we learn more about them we realize that Sully is someone that thinks he is a real hot man and the party being thrown a testament to himself. Looking around at each woman present he sets his sites on one. As the main character describes the scene Sully’s wife Jill, a man named Walt and their pasts we can feel the turbulence within each one of them, the competition rising and the end result you won’t believe. Judges and police paid off because of something Sully did. Incidents described that will either make you dislike Sully and his charmed life or so it seems or hate him. But, the ending will startle readers as one man decides that someone’s fate is about to end and his plight will no longer be in the hands of just anyone. Wait until you see who wins!
Poor Jimmy is the next story followed by Flogging Maggie a young woman who just wants to perform on stage. As he friend lures her to Atlantic City and the scene is set for her to go on will she have the confidence to not hide behind the bottle and perform. With the help of her friend Damien and the main character telling us the story will Maggie finally live her dream? But the ending will surprise readers as Maggie and so many others have to reflect on what they want, decide on where they want to go and find their own path.
The Dunning Man is the final story that focuses on Alice Williams a young mother living with her fiancé whose behavior is anything but sterling. Meet Connor the landlord whose job to rent units, keep clients happy and make sure everything is in working order. But, Connor faces more than just a few snags dealing with a middle aged rock star named Stryker soon to be divorced, his loud parties and tenants that house wild animals. Each character in this story rejects society and its norms. As Connor tries to reason with Stryker, deal with the new tenants whose character is questionable and whose actions even more, we learn about Alice. Poor Alice lives above Stryker and his parties keep her and her daughter up at night and all she wants is for him to lower the music. But, what ensues is not what you would expect as Stryker’s actions are unlawful, he provides fun for the cops that come to silence his music and the end result will not go in Alice’s favor. But, Connor pushes on, tries to deal with Stryker and when Alice’s fiancé mixes in things get out of hand. Connor Ryan tries to be reasonable and meets the guests of Stryker Jones whose latest hit song “I’ll Love Your for Now has been wearing out. An over the hill hip hop star, a man named Jimmy who drinks his way through life, a woman named Rose who needs to find a way to resolve and understand the past and a young mother whose life is going nowhere. A rich woman who thinks rules do not matter as we meet Erika Deitz-Hoffman and her minions not just humans. Some think they are above reproach why others honestly do not understand where they are going. Some find violence their answer to what the world expects of them. Each one searching for something but will they ever find it? From Atlantic City, New Orleans, Manhattan, Washington, D.C and the Hudson Valley meet the people who have lost sight and focus and understand their need to find acceptance, tolerance, understanding and their own place in this world. Hear the voices of each character as they tell you their tale, justify their actions and realize that the slightest change, the simplest movement could change the balance of their already fragile lives. The author allows readers inside the minds of 6 characters that feel superior, criticize those that do not measure up to their standards, status conscious and have yet to define whom they are. Interesting stories giving readers many new perspectives on how these lost souls or characters seem to be wandering aimlessly through life until something happens to change it all. A definite must read.
Fran Lewis: reviewer