Rocket Man Novel Describes Couple Losing Home in Suburbs

Published: Fri Jan 23 2009

People losing their homes or having to move to a smaller home is not usually the subject of a novel. But these are not ordinary times. We are in a recession playing with that D word. People are losing their homes and people are downsizing. So along comes a novel with a couple in the middle of the whirlwind of kids, suburban life, financial distress--sounds like a movie.

Rocket Man by William Elliott Hazelgrove was published in December and has steadily been climbing the hill of the unknown novel. The reviews have been far and wide.

The San Antonio Express chose it as one of the Best Books of 2008. A top reviewer for called it brilliant. The Chicago Sun Times compared the book to Irving, Russo, and Updike. Books and named it Book of the Year. The Daily Herald said it was the new book of suburban life. So the book has been vetted. But a novel needs more than that. It has to be current. It must have some relevancy to people and make them want to pick it up.

Rocket Man is very relevant. At the heart of the book is a conflicted man, Dale Hammer. He is the modern prototype of Frank in Revolutionary Road. He is a man who does not fit in and who is fast sinking under debt and an inability to pay his mortgage. The Leonardo Caprio/Kate Winslett couple feel they should be somewhere else than in the middle of suburban plasticity. So do the Hammers, at least Dale does. When his father comes to live with him all hell breaks loose and at the end of the week the Hammers are moving down. Suffice it to say, the resolution of the novel is not the normal moving up ending.

In Rocket Man the main characters go against the grain of the American Dream and move DOWN. This is a new spin. Since Horatio Algeir came on the literary scene the story of the rags to riches has been a mainstay of the American Dream. Anyone can make it. But maybe...people don't want to make it anymore. Not with the collective price we are all having to pay. Maybe there is something better behind us. As Dale Hammer says at the end when the couple is ensconced in their smaller home, "we are where we should be." Maybe we all will be looking for that.

Jim Turner
27 N Wacker Drive #828
Chicago, IL 60606
Contact Name: Jim Turner
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Contact Phone: 630-587-1520

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