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In Josh Emmons's inventive and utterly engaging debut, ten residents of Eureka, California, are brought together by a mysterious man, Leon Meed, who repeatedly and inexplicably appears -- in the ocean, at a local rock music club, clinging to the roof of a barreling truck, standing in the middle of Main Street's oncoming traffic -- and then, as if by magic, disappears.
Young and old, married and single, punk and evangelical, black, white, and Korean, each witness to these bewildering events interprets them differently, yet all of their lives are changed -- by the phenomenon itself, and by what it provokes in them. And whether they in turn stagger toward love, or heartbreakingly dissolve it, Emmons's portrayal of their stories is strikingly real and emotionally affecting.
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Scribner (2005), $24. According to Northern California native Josh Emmons, Eureka was founded when ambitious miners set out to find gold, found none, and stayed, drifting numbly into self-imposed exile.