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The Man Who Came and Went, a novel of the new west, is a magically realistic story for the modern era that will tease your understanding and beliefs, and draw you into the mysteries of the universe, from the brilliant mind of Joe Stillman, acclaimed Academy Award-nominated co-writer of “Shrek.”
Fifteen-year-old Belutha Mariah, our storyteller, is the oldest of three kids from three different fathers. Her life’s goal is to keep her dysfunctional mom, Maybell, from procreating yet again and then to leave the coffin-sized town of Hadley, Arizona the second she graduates high school.
Along comes the new grill cook at Maybell’s Diner, Bill Bill, a mysterious drifter with the ability to mind-read orders. As word spreads in Hadley and beyond, the curious and desperate pour into this small desert town to eat at Maybell’s.
Some believe Bill knows the secrets of the universe.
Belutha figures he’s probably nuts. But his cooking starts to transform the lives of locals and visitors, and Belutha finds her angry heart opening, as Bill begins to show her the porous boundary between this life and what comes after.
In a normal American town, something new and strange, and yet achingly familiar, begins to unfold.
Joe Stillman has brought us an ensemble of empathetic characters, all in the elusive search for happiness in this witty and poignant exploration of love, expectation, and mortality. I laughed, I cried, I loved it.
– D.J. MacHale, New York Times bestselling author
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ My The Man Who Came and Went Review:
Is it magical realism in the American West or is it actually a mediation in novel form? I can’t decide. This book reminds me of guided meditation with the same sense of foreboding that old Westerns built as you watched the clock tick closer to high noon. In the same vein as Hector and the Search for Happiness, we follow Belutha and our fellow diner guests (and cooks…and waiters…and hangers-on) as they come to terms with unlocking the secrets to the universe thanks to the odd-ball, Bill.
I got the image of Bill as Stephen Merchant in my head early on (which I highly recommend). Bill’s observations on the why of our coming to being left me staring off in space at various points as I tried to absorb what it all meant. Veering from the philosophical to the concrete, I found myself cheering for the discoveries of each character. I read the majority of The Man Who Came and Went while in COVID quarantine and relished the quiet moments there to fully fall into the small-town setting. Filled with gentle humor and through-provoking observations on humanity, this is a worthy addition to your TBR.
Thanks to R&R Book Tours & City Point Press/Simon and Schuster for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Meet Author Joe Stillman:
Joe Stillman co-wrote “Shrek” for Dreamworks which earned him an Academy Award® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and the Annie and BAFTA Awards.
Other produced features are “Beavis & Butthead Do America”, “Shrek 2”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, “Planet 51” and “Joseph King Of Dreams”.
In television, he was co-producer and writer on “King of the Hill,” for which he received two Emmy Award® nominations. He was a writer and story editor for Nickelodeon’s “The Adventures of Pete and Pete” and a writer on MTV’s “Beavis and Butthead”. More recently he worked on Nickelodeon’s “Sanjay And Craig” and “Kirby Buckets” for Disney. Other TV credits include “Albert” for Nickelodeon, “The War Next Door” for the USA Network, “Clueless”, “Doug” and “Danger And Eggs” for Amazon.
Joe is currently working on a “Curious George” feature for streaming on Peacock.
Blog tour organized by R&R Book Tours