Jim Lehrer of PBS's "The News Hour With Jim Lehrer" has written his 17th novel, none of which have been read by me. The latest, Eureka (Random House, 240 pages, $24.95), has been sitting on my desk for a couple months — a couple of months where I've looked at it every other day, thought about reading it and put it off.
I'm two and a half chapters in and — what do you know — I like it...
Otis Halstead is an insurance executive in Eureka, Kansas. He and his wife, Sally, have a nice life heading into their senior years, until Otis, who's about to turn 60, starts acting goofy. He buys a $12,000 toy fire engine at a charity function and plays with it on the floor of his study. Then he buys a Daisy Red Ryder air rifle (fans of Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story understand the importance of this item). Next on the list is a regulation NFL helmet of the Kansas City Chiefs. And finally, the piece de resistance, a 1952 Cushman motor scooter.
Sally pretends not to be amused by his reverting-back-to-childhood midlife crisis but then makes him go see a shrink.
Otis climbs further into his own little world after tragedy befalls a colleague, and he hops on his scooter, helmet on head, rifle in hand, fire truck in tow, and heads west.
This book will likely appeal mostly to Baby Boomers — or anyone who's ever had a runaway fantasy.