Larry Morris's novel The Edge of the Reservoir ambitiously weaves together such weighty topics as life, death, religion, love, marriage, and friendship, without being heavy-handed. The novel reads well. The language is simple, lucid, and flowing, carrying the reader along, deftly shifting between the difficulties of the present and the bittersweet recollection of the past. And there are some moments of genuine humor.
The book's focal point is Ryan Masterson, who, in his late thirties, is already drifting in the doldrums of mid-life crisis. Frustrated with his job, his marriage, and unfulfilled dreams, Ryan retreats to junk food, late night TV, self-absorption, and reminiscence. Ryan's transformation from a young, artistically sensitive, outdoor loving, hardworking distance runner to a frustrated father of two, somewhat perplexed dreamer of dreams, late night snacker, whose boss and wife are chief sources of his misery, is nicely done. Carefully selected, well-drawn scenes in the past and present, along with realistic dialogue, give a very believable sense of the pain and frustration in someone we may casually notice on the bus or in the mail, wrapped in the cloak of everydayness, about whose inner life we can only guess. Morris manages to walk the line describing mid-life crisis without falling off into cliché. Much of this can be attributed to the accessible, everyday reality that makes the book live. However, in some instances the everyday detail may eventually surface as a weakness. Mention of episodes of M.A.S.H., particular items in 7-Eleven stores, and specific Utah Jazz basketball games and players (several of whom are no longer with the team) already date the book and may soon become a distraction.