Never Going Home ISBN: 9780692862759, TFC published, an e-book by Brian Barton.
Plot: Clay, a middle-aged Pilot Captain for RASH Airlines ‘freezes’ just prior to takeoff and his First Officer Matt Blancando (HazMatt), saves them and the plane full of passengers but damages the craft on the emergency landing. The two are grounded during the investigation. The reader then is introduced to Katrina, Petrova and Sumito Goldberg who are involved in a terrorist-like attack on a Rash installation and further learn that they are in the process of establishing a new airline seemingly using the same routes. The story gradually proceeds with further information about the plot, the principals involved and the ultimate results, but mostly the story is centered on the protagonist and his confused life that yields a most complicated story. He is frustrated because he cannot rise to a Senior Captain position where he can pretty much control his own fly time, routes, etc. However, the reader also is aware that he is an intensely psychologically disturbed individual (as witnessed by his takeoff meltdown). His only friends are HazKatt and Plim, “the only retired lesbian type rated Captain in Manhattan” who lives with her significant other, practicing lawyer Randala. HazMatt tells him that many of their colleagues wonder about his sexual orientation although he and his acquaintances participate in sexual activities with mostly bar pick-ups on their various lay-overs. However, he does explain; “I find needy women attractive because they cherish me and greet me with a smile. They help me ditch my unhealthy impulses by showing me something worth doing. But my helping cycles are enervating, and I realize I can’t put a Band-Aid on the world.” This statement pretty well sums up his constant loneliness, feeling of isolation, insecurity, fear of people, episodes of crying, and panic attacks, the source of which are provided only late in the book as are a cursory ‘wrap-up’ of the entire story.
Discussion: The author has presented the rather pathetic story of an extremely mentally disturbed protagonist, and has done so quite well, in the rather disordered manner such a person’s mind would function. The idea of such presentation is commendable, but in this reviewer’s opinion makes following the story line more difficult; e.g. such activities as purchase of an illegal pistol with no obvious reason or intent provided. It also is difficult to accept as fact that such a person could pass the mental portion of a commercial pilot’s frequent testing procedures. Additionally, the gathering of the story’s concluding ‘loose ends’ pf the terror attacks’ seem to be shuffled together quickly as an afterthought simply as a means of providing a closing to this part of the story.
3* At most, for good portrayal of mentally disturbed person.