Are you happy? What is the source of your happiness? Would you say it’s love? Steven Gillis provides us with a few different answers to these questions in his new novel Liars. His characters find themselves either concretely sure of themselves, or questioning everything they know in this thrilling, somber story of a man trying to understand love.
Eric McCanus isn’t convinced that anyone can be as happy as the doting couple in the supermarket. Reeling from his own divorce, and the strange non-relationship he has going on with his live-in non-girlfriend, the washed-up author is drowning in bad ideas and writer’s block. When he sees Matt and Cara in the market he can’t help but involve himself, to an almost unbelievable extent, in their relationship. He wants to know whether their relationship, and ultimately their happiness, can sustain itself when someone throws a wrench in their happily ever after.
How was anyone to have faith in the universe if such false prophets were allowed to parade themselves freely throughout streets and markets? For the good of everyone then, I thought for the first time, something must be done.
The novelist cleverly inserts himself into this couples’ life, and he stirs up trouble from the very first encounter. Gloria, the woman living with him, warns him to butt out. She tells him this is wrong, that being happy is something to strive for:
Being better to ourselves and others, getting through the day without harm, isn’t that enough without having to worry about being enlightened? This life, McCanus, isn’t complicated unless you make it so. The most important thing we can do in life is learn how to be happy.
Somehow, Gloria wiggles her way into McCanus’s heart . . . but he doesn’t realize it until his ex-wife points it out to him.
Liars moves brilliantly back and forth between the feelings of love and defeat. Gillis is a master puppeteer; his characters embody the broken gracefulness that is alive in the everyday lives of the people around us. He is meaningful and quick to the point, keeping the reader hanging on each and every word. Steven Gillis has crafted an artful, witty representation of the struggle between light and dark. Fans of love stories and tragedies will rejoice over rise and fall of the characters in Liars.