'Seinfeld' fans will like author's debut novel
Playwright and journalist David Kalish introduces his first novel, "The Opposite of Everything," written while pursuing an MFA from Bennington College. "The Opposite of Everything" is a humorous novel about a man, Daniel, diagnosed with cancer who winds up getting a divorce and is soon after accidentally pushed off a bridge by his own father. As strange as this sounds, it really is funny.
Kalish's writing is being compared to the comedy of "Seinfeld." If you were a fan of the show, you'll most likely be a fan of the witty and sometimes quirky dialogue of the characters in Kalish's novel.
Take for example, a conversation between the main character's best friend, Steve, and his mother. Steve is a telephone line repairman and answers his cellphone while up in the air working on the wires. His mom calls to tell him about Daniel falling off the bridge and being in the hospital. But the conversation is mostly about how she's worried Steve is going to fall down, and the banter between the two goes on and on, with not much mention about Daniel and his plight.
Once Daniel is diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the story, his new marriage is completely turned upside down. His wife is always wondering why he can't understand how she feels and how she is hurting.
At times, this made me want to reach into the book and shake her, but we have to get rid of her and her self-centered attitude through divorce in order for the story to move on. The end of the marriage doesn't take long and involves the police. Then Daniel goes on a guys' weekend with his dad to a senior citizens dating paradise, which ends with the bridge incident.
By this time, Daniel starts to test his theory that doing the opposite of everything he has ever done before is the only way to face his life when faced with death. He also dresses in black, gets a few odd body piercings and listens to heavy metal music. His friend Steve attempts to help him date once he recovers from the bridge drama. But it's not until Daniel takes matters into his own hands and finds a bright, young female doctor on an Internet dating site that life starts to take an upward swing.
In an interview, Kalish gave to the "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine, he stated, "In just four months in 1994, I was diagnosed with incurable thyroid cancer at the same time my first marriage fell apart. I later got remarried to a doctor and underwent chemotherapy." He says this first novel is loosely based on his own life during that time, but when he tried to write the story as a memoir, it wasn't working.
He decided to fictionalize his plight, add humor and write it in the third-person. "My book is still a story about one man's struggle, his search for renewal," he said. "But I've handed it over to actors who are free to do all sorts of crazy things. It's liberating."
Kalish has had previous success as a journalist working for The Associated Press, and with a short movie he wrote, "Regular Guy," which was selected for film festivals in the United States and abroad. He currently lives in Clifton Park, N.Y., with his wife, daughter, two canaries and two dogs, where he is working on his second novel, "Stoner Hero."
If you enjoy dark comedy and humor about everyday life, as well as witty banter and offbeat characters, then you will love Kalish's debut novel.
Margo L. Dill is celebrating the release of her second novel, "Caught Between Two Curses," a young adult novel exploring love, family and the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Cubs. She also is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She lives in St. Louis with her family.