I Am Calvin Bledsoe

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"This is a quirky comic gem of a novel . . . Brock Clark is one-of-a-kind novelist." --Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher
 
"A delightful, quasi-liturgical allegory of our times . . . A wonderful read." --Elizabeth Strout, author of Anything Is Possible

 
Calvin Bledsoe has reached middle age without ever really growing up. His domineering mother is a celebrated theologian whose book on John Calvin has made her internationally famous, and who raised Calvin her son to have very few opinions of his own. When she dies in a fiery collision of her car with a speeding train, Calvin—whose wife had walked out on him and whose father was dead—suddenly finds himself alone for the first time in his life. At his mother's funeral, an aunt Calvin didn't know he had shows up and proceeds to take charge of his life, tricking him into traveling with her to Europe, where she gradually reveals her colorful but morally questionable past. On their journey from Stockholm into Germany and France and ending with a side trip to Lisbon before landing in Morocco or some place very much like it, Calvin discovers that there may be more to life than a small town in New England and a job blogging for the pellet stove industry. For one thing, he meets and falls in love with a glamorous woman who may or may not be an international spy, and for another he is kidnapped briefly by a man who may or may not be his biological father. But by the end of his journey, the one thing of which Calvin Bledsoe is certain is that he has finally wrested control of his life away from the people who have controlled him, and he sets out to make a new life for himself, proving that a person is never too old to grow up.

In an act of homage to Graham Greene's only comic novel, Travels with My Aunt, Brock Clarke has upped the ante in My Name Is Calvin Bledsoe by layering in his own touches of absurdity and sweetness, and in giving the reader a voice-driven narrative that is both a grand adventure and a remarkably moving coming-of-age story.