Don Eron’s novel Presner the Remarkable is a literary dramedy exploring a man’s latent journey to forge an authentic identity.
The eponymous Presner is the misfit in his middle-aged group of law school friends. While the others have carved out relationships and legal careers, Presner is an aspiring playwright working at a newsstand while nurturing a platonic (maybe more?) friendship with a struggling actress.
The core group consists of: Roxie, a tough, bawdy, county judge; Marx, the telegenic ambulance chaser who once stole Presner’s would-be paramour (an act Presner never forgave); and Fitzhugh, a charismatic scammer who earned Presner’s unerring loyalty when he supported him through the final stages of his sister’s cancer battle.
With the gang reuniting for Marx’s looming wedding, old wounds resurface and new ones are uncovered. When Roxie tells Presner that Fitzhugh has defrauded the others for hundreds of thousands of dollars, it becomes Presner’s mission to make it right, even if that means confronting his best friend and, in the process, all the fears and trauma that have been holding him back.
Set around the early 2000s and spanning over 20 previous years, the story feels a bit like a mid-life follow-up to a Brat Pack coming-of-age drama. Wrapped within are sweet tales of male friendship, sibling love, dying young, and personal transformation. Eron, through Presner, elevates the novel with candor, humor, and self-awareness. From page one, the author’s writing is infused with a chummy nostalgia, and the characters and social dynamics breathe with verisimilitude. Presner’s wounds are deep and real, his neuroses relatable, and he simply feels worth rooting for.
With time-slipping in and out of the story’s past and present, Presner’s beginning feels a bit murky and confusing. But the reader’s patience is amply rewarded by Eron’s talent as the story evolves and he deftly weaves together memories with subtlety and grace.