Review

Eureka

by Jim Lehrer

Otis
Halstead, a quiet, competent, civic-minded CEO of a Kansas casualty
and life insurance company in Eureka, Kansas, is a contentedly
married father of a college-age daughter. Just three weeks short of
his 60th birthday, he is visiting an antiques toy show when he is
suddenly seized by a desire to pay $12,500 for a mint condition toy
fire engine exactly like the one he didn’t get for his fifth
Christmas.

 

Then, in a catalog on memorabilia, he spots a Red Ryder BB rifle
complete with official BBs in its original carton. As soon as it
arrives via FedEx Express, he hastily erects a target in the
backyard and starts spending his free time pinging away at paper
targets until he becomes a crack shot.

 

Next is an authentic Kansas City Chiefs football helmet that he
begins to wear in public because it covers his bald head, making
him look younger. By now his wife and friends are becoming
concerned about his behavior, and when he disappears one Saturday
and returns late that night towing a 1952 Cushman motor scooter on
a trailer, that is when they insist he seek professional help. Otis
reluctantly agrees to confer with Bob Gilroy, his best friend and a
psychologist at a famed Eureka mental health clinic. Bob suggests
that he talk to a specialist in “aging male syndrome,”
but Otis observes that Dr. Tonganoxie is even stranger than he is
and decides that the only way to cure his hunger for change is to
run away from home. 

 

And so it is that we accompany Otis aboard his red 1952 Cushman
motor scooter on his own, within-the-speed-limit version of Jack
Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD. Jack Kerouac he is not --- there are
no pot parties or peeing off the back of freight cars in
Otis’s journey to adventure. He does not awake after any
orgies or with strange women in his bed. No doubt the wildest night
is spent in a garage in Church Key Charlie Blue’s chocolate
fudge factory along Kansas Highway 56, where Otis arrives, bruised
and soaked to the skin after an accident in a rainstorm. There
begins his odyssey to self-awareness, fraught with danger and
pitfalls never encountered on the golf course or at his business
man’s club.

 

Jim Lehrer, author of 16 prior novels, has constructed a warm,
humorous and poignant story of a nice man who thinks he has
everything and discovers that there is more to life than
success.







Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 21, 2011

Eureka
by Jim Lehrer

  • Publication Date: October 2, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 1400064872
  • ISBN-13: 9781400064878