‘Radiomen’: A New Novel
from Eleanor Lerman
Reviewed by Carol Smallwood
Eleanor Lerman, “Radiomen”
The Permanent Press
2015, 288 pages, hardcover, $23.20
Subtle humor is never far removed in Lerman’s “Radiomen,” a seventeen-chapter novel about aliens on our planet. For example, in the opening lines of Chapter 1, the psychic asks the caller her name:
“Laurie. And something with a P.”
“Yes, I knew there was a ‘z’ in there too.”
The dialogue flows well, delineates the characters, and carries the plot, the discovery of a lost radio network, with humor:
“Stop worrying, Laurie. Everything will be fine.”
“That’s what they say in the movies just before the psycho killers show up.”
For such an accomplished poet, a recipient of a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, to write a novel like “Radiomen” is fascinating and unexpected. In Eleanor Lerman’s poetry collection, “Strange Life” (Mayapple Press 2014), the poems were multilayered, skillfully employed poetic devices, and were full of complexities and mood changes that made multiple readings a joy.
A dog appears on the cover of poetry collection of “Strange Life” and the main character’s dog, Digitaria, is an important part of the novel “Radiomen”, emphasizing the interconnectedness between her writing, despite the change in tone.
Laurie, the protagonist of “Radiomen” who works at an airport bar at Kennedy, observes: “Looking up into the night, I saw that Orion and his hunting dogs were climbing back into the ink-colored sky, making their return from their summer hiding place below the horizon.” Laurie is an observer always aware of the immense sky above, eager to discover the mysteries that lurk beyond.
Near the end of the search for the lost portion of the universal network Laurie concludes: “Everything was the same as it always was, except it was not. And what was not, was me.” And at the very end: “What did I want? I wanted more.”
The reader of “Radiomen” will echo the desire for more of Lerman’s writing when finishing this lyrical novel.
Carol Smallwood’s most recent books include: “Water, Earth, Air, Fire, and Picket Fences” (Lamar University Press, 2014); “Divining the Prime Meridian” (WordTech Communications, 2015); and “Writing After Retirement” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).