The Future For Curious People by Gregory Sherl (4 out of 5)
Two people meet in the office of a Chinese doctor who’s also an “envisionist”, someone who can put your intended’s name into a computer and shows you a film of your future life together. Armed with such knowledge, what would you do? Rather, what wouldn’t you do? This quirky, charming little novel gives you a good idea. At points hilarious and alarming, there isn’t a moment in the book where the reader doesn’t go “What if?” There are other parts where you’ll go “What the hell?” and yet others where you go “Is that possible?” To me, that calls about a great little book. I won’t lie to you, I could not get into the idea at first, but the more the reader gets to know Evelyn and Godfrey, the more you want to read on and see how this futuristic sha-bang works out.
You meet Evelyn, a young lady who’s obsessed with visiting Dr. Chin’s office to undergo this procedure. Evelyn’s a bit quirky and insists upon knowing that someday she will be happy and in love with someone. The young librarian enchants you immediately, especially the parts where she gets the library to hire her kleptomaniac friend Dot, who has a problem not just stealing what isn’t hers but is also medicated to the gills at parts (or drunk, take your pick). I thought Dot was going to annoy me, but once she gets somewhat sobered up, she’s an invaluable part of the book. Godfrey, our other main character, is more or less forced to go to Dr Chin for this “envisioning”, at the behest of his oddball “fiancée” (but not really. That’s another story.). Godfrey gets Madge, his longtime girlfriend, a ring and proposes. He doesn’t expect her reaction at all, especially when she whips out this “envisioning” nonsense. He does go to Dr. Chin to placate Madge, although he has questions and serious doubt (why does this guy work this practice out of an old Chinese restaurant? Why does he have a PHD in just about everything and also claim to be an accountant? Why does his receptionist only move you ahead with a bribe, regardless of your appointment? Why do they play cards for money and drink after hours?). In the waiting room, he meets “gorgeous” Evelyn and immediately wants to know her better…but ignores his gut and goes ahead with the envisioning. Evelyn keeps thinking about Godfrey after she leaves, and confides her thoughts to Dot. The two continue to see each other in odd ways. Godfrey chugs along with Madge’s crazy pre-proposal acceptance rituals and after she basically tells him his vision of an art experiment prove they are incompatible, he goes crazy, gets drunk, starts major trouble with Bart and Amy (Bart is Godfrey’s best friend; although since hooking up with Amy, completely unrecognizable as the best friend that Godfrey had all these years. Which raises another set of questions- do people you know many years change when coupled with someone who changes them completely??), and after a strange wake-up call at a liquor store, Godfrey manages to find Evelyn’s address in a phone book. He staggers out, in the winter subzero temps, no less, and gets her attention by throwing rocks at her window, elementary school style. Dot is at Evelyn’s getting drunk, and she manages to talk Evelyn into letting Godfrey come up and talk to her. What happens? Well, I’ll tell you this, what does- isn’t expected, it’s gloriously bizarre, and you can’t stop til you get enough (or to the end).
The basic gist of the book is this- if you can’t let go of your past romantic pitfalls, how can you open up your heart enough to possibly see true love standing right in front of you? Haven’t we all been there? I have, and there were parts of this book where questions arose, and oh boy, for such a quirky love story, you certainly have your mind spinning like an emotional top when you’re done reading this gem. I had a difficult time getting into this book at first, mainly because I thought it was too far-fetched of a concept to spin into a plot, much less a love story, but Sherl does a tremendous job not only making it happen, but also making you question your choices in love. And if such technology were available (in this day and age, I choose to believe even this is possible), would you use it? Or would you pooh-pooh it and hope that the fickle hand of fate deals you a winning hand? Godfrey has plenty of emotional vultures that show up in the novel, as we’re allowed to see when he gets a chance to go through his past mistakes and envision where they would have led. In fact, two of the vapid soulsuckers he remembers bare startling resemblances to exes of mine! As I said, a great book to make you laugh, scratch your head, and overall, think. But more importantly than that, it makes you go “What If?” The best thing you can do is get out and buy a copy of this book and give it a whirl.