Guest Post by Kevin Brown
Jeff Boyd’s debut novel, The Weight, follows Julian as his life slowly begins to fall apart. The woman he’s been sleeping with is now engaged to somebody else; he’s working a job at a call center where the best way to advance in the company is to lead the morning prayer; he’s a drummer in a band that doesn’t seem to have much of a future; he’s one of a very few Black people in Portland. As the novel progresses, though, he slowly begins to learn how to put his life together, partly driven by a late-night encounter with a woman who reads him the entirety of The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, a novella she believes he needs to hear then and there. The only complaint I have with the novel is that, like many first novels, Boyd wraps the ending up too neatly: people remain friends when perhaps they shouldn’t, and they reconcile every problem, at least superficially. Despite that complaint, Julian and his friends are an enjoyable group to spend time with, even when they’re making decisions the reader (and everybody else in the novel) knows are choices that will lead them in the wrong direction, at least until the end.
The Weight by Jeff Boyd. Simon and Schuster, April 2023.
Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.