Book review: Robert Olen Butler’s A Small Hotel

After a two-year absence, I’m back in the pages of Jackson Free Press, with a review of Robert Olen Butler’s new novel, A Small Hotel. Here’s the opening:

Any marriage, good or bad, looks easier from the outside than it ever does when you’re inside it. They’re like fragile statues, marriages. The slightest crack can cause shattering, even if it takes years for the crack to spread and multiply.

In Robert Olen Butler’s short novel, “A Small Hotel” (Grove Press, 2011, $24), the author details how one marriage cracks open, falls apart, and maybe, just maybe, glues itself together again. We meet Michael and Kelly Hays, an affluent Pensacola couple, on the day their divorce is to be finalized.

Michael thinks he’s already moved on to a younger lover (Laurie Pruitt), and is speeding an hour west of New Orleans to an antebellum-themed dress ball. Kelly, though, doesn’t show up to the courthouse to sign papers. Instead, she heads to the Olivier House Hotel in the French Quarter—where she and Michael first made love. She’s armed only with her best little black dress, a fifth of scotch and a bottle full of Percocet.

Go read it.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Athens, GA. His work has been published in RogerEbert.com, Bookslut, The Comics Journal, Salon, The Baseball Chronicle, Jackson Free Press, and Valley Voices: A Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter (@walter_biggins), and check out his bimonthly newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/Walter_Biggins).
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