A collection was a record of a life lived, maybe not well or happily but at least with attention and passion. It was an autobiography made tangible.
The Heart of America Antique Mall in the city of Wichita, Kansas is going under. For the impassioned collectors of what to others may be junk, this has been the one place they can display and sell the collectibles that are their lifeblood. They themselves are a collection of misfits, as strange and unique as the knickknacks they push on customers. Delores, a Barbie doll aficionado, communicates with her collection of rare dolls, abstaining from all of life’s pleasures for her betterment. Poor old widower and avid postcard collector Ronald finds himself stumbling, bumbling into quite a pickle without his wife to keep him in line. Lee, A middle aged man, is back in his childhood home with his partner Seymour in tow; they are the ‘fresh blood’ for the dying business, trying to peddle the ‘detritus’ of their life, the leftovers from their own failed vintage shop in Cambridge. Might the strain of this last stop place be too much for their dying relationship to handle?
Ellie feels like a caged animal, trapped working at her parent’s business since she was 13 and now likely for an extended stint thanks to her mother. Ellie wants nothing more than to spend her days trying to blank out her surroundings, dreaming of abandoning it all. This is not the future she desires, it is worse than death, so much so that she longs to be like the abducted beauty pageant toddler Lindy Bobo, at least something happened in her life. Bobo, whose face is on flyers, is soon discovered to have a strange connection to the very mall Ellie hates. The local child star’s disappearance is creating a ripple effect that may ruin Ellie’s dad’s plans for revival of the mall.
Keith, Ellie’s father and owner of The Heart of America is sure salvation will come in the form of the popular antiques show Pickin’ Fortunes. They just need the attention, and who better than the presenters Mark and Grant to shine a light on the place? But will the media attention of the missing child spoil his plans? Margaret Byrd spends her time feeling superior to the others, unlike the rest of the sellers, her things are treasures and the place is going to the dogs, now that ‘the gays’ have begun to sell pop junk in her friend’s former booth!She knows their things are certainly not antiques and will only put shoppers off! Pete Dean is the Dealer Association President, toy collector and hoarder, because of course this loud mouth isn’t serious about what he sells- but he always seems to know how to hook people, Delores especially.
Each of the characters in this novel are unraveling. The story has a slow beginning and then, out of nowhere, the most comical, ridiculous nonsense leads to serious trouble. Even the most uptight of them loses her grip on whatever semblance of control she had. They are disasters, and their future seems more doomed then poor little Lindy’s. Just how will it all end? In a tangle, of course!
A funny read about neurotic people.
Publication Date: April 1, 2020
Simon & Schuster