While I’m very cognizant and familiar with the process of a willful protagonist wresting control of a narrative (this happened to me with an earlier unpublished coming-of-age novel I wrote (among my five other unpublished novels) when I was in my 20s. Believe it or not, I really had somewhat of a handle on Will from the start, though Will didn’t have a handle on himself from the start, and I guess that was sort of the point.
Jonathan, I must say you tricked me, not once but several times, in that I convinced myself that the plot was moving in a certain direction only to find out that you were taking your characters elsewhere. This is a very good thing. But the first puzzlement that surfaced while I was playing dodge-ball with this text was why William obsessed about Lulu so much. When Lulu’s face is described early in the book by a reference to Mr. Potato Head (very funny, I must say) I knew what was working on William was more than just Lulu’s looks.
This story is about a chance encounter on a Manhattan street between a man and a woman that, it turns out, have some history. The POV of the guy is what we hear and he is plainly obsessed with his old acquaintance Mary, who he hasn’t seen in quite a while. But “plainly” is not an accurate word since right off we are treated to a methodical description of Mary’s appearance that is so sensual that it would make the god Eros proud. And there is a nice observation in the science of dalliance when the guy realizes that this random encounter will end just as quickly as it began unless he makes a segue to another encounter, this one planned rather than aleatory.