(Reviewed by Don Jung)
Veteran sitcom writer Bruce Ferber is switching gears with his debut novel, Elevating Overman. This clever, off- beat, kooky story centers around a 55-year-old loser who is experiencing a mid-life crisis. He realizes the wrongs of his past and tries to make amends for his shortcomings.
Ira Overman quits his job as an unethical luxury car salesman after undergoing lasik eye surgery. He believes that this procedure not only enables him to see things more clearly, but also gives him a new awareness on how to look at life.
As he reassesses his family and friends, he discovers a “super power” within himself that will enable him to escape his pathetic life. As he takes steps to move out of his shell, he finds himself falling in and out of odd ball situations; from working for a loan shark who wants to produce porn films to planning an escape for a friend’s son who is a prisoner in a religious cult.
It’s not all comical and over-the-top, though. There are tragic incidences in his past that he feels responsible for and that he must revisit and make right. These events may even make the reader feel somewhat uneasy.
The events become more unpredictable as the story unfolds and his relationships with friends and family take on a whole new meaning as he yearns to find himself. The character development starts out slowly and gets much deeper as he examines life in the superficial Los Angeles environment. I started out not even caring about this shallow guy, but I slowly changed my mind as I saw Ira change and grow. This is not your typical mid-life crisis story where the protagonist becomes more self-absorbed. Yes, his self-esteem does grow, but so does his character.
This look at the Southern California lifestyle is captured with depth and feeling. Ira’s Jewish guilt gives us hilarious and off- the- wall situations that make you laugh and reassess your own life. If you are a Woody Allen fan, this anti-hero may be right up your alley. Elevating Overman is witty and a little off balance and will keep you reading from beginning to end.