You May Not Know This Writer, But He’s As Good As Richard Ford

If you like Richard Ford’s musings and meanderings with his protagonist/alter ego, Frank Bascombe, you’ll love David Gates and his trainwrecked anti-hero Doug Willis. In Preston Falls, the follow-up to Gates’s stunning, much-praised 1992 debut novel Jernigan, a father and disaffected PR man (and ersatz rock and roller) named Doug Willis suffers a midlife crisis so intense he’s dubbed it Willis’s Disease. Narcissistic, over-analytical and self-sabotaging in the extreme, Doug has a story (and Gates sees that Doug’s wife, Jean, tells hers, too) that will resonate with readers even as it repels. The novel in some ways a thriller—there are guns and drugs and was as rock and roll—but, like everything Gates writes, it’s exquisitely literary.