Part bildungsroman and part psychological thriller, That Existential Leap is a novel of ideas about the struggle for self-realisation and belonging in the postmodern West.
Claudette Dasgupta is a thoughtful but unremarkable American teenager unenthusiastic about the prospect of college and a conventional life. When she meets the heroically mysterious Siegfried at the New York Public Library, she barely hesitates to throw in her lot with him, but soon finds an unscripted life is scarier, and harder, than she could have imagined. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Siegfried’s home town Glasgow, unconventional police detective Alexander investigates his disappearance. Alexander is soon caught up in still more unworldly affairs as his work spirals out of control and his personal life unravels.
As the two stories wrap around one another, encompassing the worlds of crime and gangsterism, the law and police work, music and the supernatural, Dolan Cummings' novel explores the terrifying uncertainty at the core of all human relationships.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
That Existential Leap: a crime story by Dolan Cummings is the kind of book you just want to be immersed in, hoping it doesn’t end.
The two male protagonists, one primarily in New York, one in Scotland, both flawed and engaging, allow the reader a thought-provoking exposure to two minds that stimulate your own existential thoughts as these characters navigate their worlds. Most interesting, That Existential Leap:…does not hit you over the head with heady academic philosophy. Rather these young men of working class roots take you into their insights and struggles with just the right amount of intrigue of character and quirky uniqueness without being annoying—a feat not easily attained.
We are introduced to Siegfried, who seems to be a cross between his idol, Raskolnikov, from Crime and Punishment and Ignatius J. Reilly, from Confederacy of Dunces, through the insightful eyes of his young girlfriend as she attempts to manage her own existential questions of how to enter adulthood. She notes that according to Siegfried:
"The narrow and predictable biography of the average human being is really quite disturbing. What is more disturbing perhaps is that this is no secret. Everybody who has ever bothered to think about it can see that there are infinite possibilities in life, and yet still they plow that same furrow, or at least choose their furrows from the same field, so to speak. Siegfried wouldn’t have objected if they were talking about a good field, but really it isn’t a good field at all. The deliberate choice of a dull and miserable life seemed to Siegfried to be inexcusable, and yet it was the norm, the reality."
And Alexander, our brilliantly dysphoric detective from Scotland presents his own existential musings that are less heady yet equally intriguing and seductive.
"Alexander realized that his love was dead. But he began to see something new in Laura. Something that suggested the relationship might be worth pursuing after all. Not the promise of happiness that he had never really wanted anyway, but something far more in keeping with his personality, and indeed his ambition. As the love that had become lust turned finally to resentment, it hit him. Laura would make an excellent wife."
I found that I was highlighting and re-reading many lines or full paragraphs, looking up to ponder the narrative, smiling to myself about the places it led me, or reading to whomever was near—this is a sign of a novel that challenges without overwhelming. I highly recommend The Existential Leap: a crime story, and look forward to the next novel by Dolan Cummings.
I received this novel as an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. As you can see from my review, I very much appreciated the opportunity. Publication date is May 26,2017. ~ Nancy Burkey, www.nancyburkey.com