A comic tragedy that is original and yet reminiscent of the work of some literary powerhouses, The Reflectionary: Who’s Telling The Truth is the debut novel and first of a series by B.T. Thomas (@sammyloggins).
The story, which soon enough branches into sub-plots that twist off on their own before intersecting with the main plotline, begins with Samuel Loggins discovering an empty dance studio after losing his second job in a year, this time as a trainee financial advisor in the Dallas area.
Samuel — sorry, now that’s he’s not a trainee financial advisor anymore we can call him Sammy — has some ideas about the state of truth in our United States. Misinformation and disinformation (he’ll explain the difference) are rampant, beginning from our earliest days — Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, anyone? — and building to a crescendo where whatever is said by the blow-dried/tan-in-a-can anchorperson on cable news becomes gospel to whichever segment of the population is that channel’s congregation.
While he goes through the motions of finding a new job to placate his wife Dar, whose own career is going quite well thank you very much, Sammy comes up with a remarkable idea. He’ll open The Reflectionary in that empty dance studio, and as The Reflectionist (the only one, mind you) Sammy will tell people the truth.
That’s more than enough plot to get you started; to say more would be a disservice to readers. Know that the author has called The Reflectionary a tragic comedy for good reason: you’ll laugh, chuckle, groan, grimace, and squirm as secrets are unlocked and simple actions cascade, careen and snowball in ways wonderful and terrible.
Fair warning: There is a lot of explicit sex in this book. There is also a lot of overt and covert political commentary on topics that are very relevant to where our country is today, financially and socially. Again, fair warning if these subjects are not to your liking, but they serve the overall plot.
Within an hour of starting The Reflectionary I began to get a feeling that it reminded me of other books I’ve read. Certainly not in the sense of copying or anything negative, but the very original plot, distinctive characters and situations felt vaguely … familiar. About a day later it struck me.
It has been many, many years since I read John Irving’s The World According to Garp and not as many years since reading Mark Haddon’s A Spot of Bother, but to me there is a very similar “feel” to The Reflectionary as to these great novels, which I enjoyed very much.
My only small complaint is the book seems to go a bit long. There is a major resolution, followed by several chapters that serve to set up the next book in the series. These final chapters are certainly not less interesting that any previous, but as the pages wind down the reader knows the end of this installment is coming, and they will have to wait to find out what happens next.
I would give this book 4.5 stars if that option was available. Since it is not, I can’t think of a valid reason to round down rather than up.
To learn more about B.T. Thomas, visit his blog: www.thereflectionary.net