Book Review: South of Main Street by Robert Gately

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Rating: 4/5

To the Point

South of Main Street is a touching portrait of an eclectic man, and how normality is merely an illusion.

Give Me More

I have always been a fan of literary fiction, especially when it comes to novels that examine human behavior under a microscope.  South of Main Street was a rare treat in this way.  Robert Gately is a deeply introspective author, and I swooned over his elegant prose.  South of Main Street is a novel about a seemingly odd man from afar, but when taking a closer look, it is about the complexities of human connection.

Set in a small town in Pennsylvania, Gatley presents the reader with Henry – a middle-aged, emotionally distraught man.  To Henry’s neighbors, he is an odd nuisance, but Henry is gifted in that he has the ability to connect to others and cross social lines in the community.  While Henry’s neighbors find his behavior odd, the novel puts the reader in Henry’s shoes and allows the reader to experience his unique “normality”.  Throughout the novel more is revealed about Henry and his past, as well as his connection to his family.  Family ties are examined in all of their twists and turns, and I couldn’t help but connect Henry’s experience to that of my own family.  Gately’s gorgeous portrayal of small-town connections and familial struggles guides the reader to think about their own social standing in a new and unique way.

South of Main Street will appeal to fans of A Man Called Ove or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.  Gately’s writing forced me to think critically about human relationships in a new context, and I was blown away by Henry’s character development and the reveal of his multi-faceted life and personality.  The only reason I gave this novel 4/5 stars is due to wordiness throughout the novel. However, if you are looking for your next great literary fiction read, then you can’t go wrong with South of Main Street.

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