Leaper – The Misadventures of a Not-Necessarily-Super Hero, by Geoffrey Wood (WaterBrook Press, 2007)
James is a 30-something barista who lives in a squalid apartment now that his lawyer wife has filed for divorce. He’s neurotic, perhaps paranoid, and he doesn’t have much of a life.
Doesn’t sound like a guy you’d want to spend a novel with, does it?
But listen to him talk:
“I don’t know how this works for normal people, but being a basically paranoid-delusional person who finds himself with someone actually following him—well, most of my life has been lived talking myself out of such imagined plots. Now it’s happening. There is a guy, and he is following me. An actual emergency.
“In a way, it’s like an “I told you so” to the universe. I feel prepared. I have been practicing for this sort of thing all my life.” (pp. 209-210)
This is the funniest book I’ve read in a long time. It’s written in first person, mostly present-tense, and James’ quirky humour and his misadventures make for a novel that engaged me from page one.
To make matters worse, this poor guy discovers a random ability to instantly zap from one place to another—to leap. As we follow his attempts to learn how to control this new ability, and his socially-inept dealings with his ex-wife and co-workers, Leaper reveals itself to be more than a comedy. There’s a poignancy here too, and some interesting insights on how we relate to the people around us…and to God.
James thinks maybe God gave him this ability so he can do good, but “If God’s suggesting that I am expected to do good and also obligated to manufacture a genuine desire for it, this boat’s sunk, still sitting on the trailer in the driveway….We’ve got to talk me out of me first.” (p. 199)
Geoffrey Wood has given us a funny, quirky read with some questions that will linger—and that may make a difference in our own relationships. I admit I didn’t get the ending, and that disappointed me. Still, the rest of the novel was fun.
Leaper is Geoffrey Wood’s first novel. I’m pleased to see he has another novel out: The God Cookie.
[Review source: my personal library]