Does heroism lie in the intent or in the implementation? In Further Adventures Jon Stephen Fink’s elderly protagonist, Ray Green, is an obsolete idealist. A hero in his own mind, and once upon a time a hero on the radio, Green is launched from a retired and retiring bachelorhood by a series of events completely alien to his understanding.
Once a radio superhero, “The Green Ray” alias Peter Tremayne, Ray Green has fumbled through a lonely and largely unaware existence until he reaches old age in an era where heroes and villains are shadowy, morally ambiguous creatures. Further Adventures is told in Ray’s quirky, grandiloquent, semi-literate voice. This is both the most endearing and the most annoying feature of the book. Like the stories of the chattering retiree one is helpless to escape on the airplane, Ray’s self-absorbed naïveté alternately charms and grates.
"God forbid if my Life ended by itself in the Desert from a heart attack and if Annie LaSalle was there by my side I believe with my last breath I could defend my Actions of 73 Years and keep my Good Name. But before it could wind up that way my past experiences came back to me under my skin suckered the Good nature of my character and led me to people places & actions that God did not forbid. It peeled off my innocent skin but underneath it was the Opposite nor do I not mean Experience no it was Guilty."
Paragraphs such as this one both make my head hurt and cause me to root for Ray. Did I mention that the book is Ray’s suicide note? This presentation was a brilliant maneuver on the part of the author. No matter how cringe-inducing Ray’s experiences, how dreadful the consequences of his well-intentioned acts, Fink drags the reader along on Ray’s journey. It is difficult to put down a suicide note, especially without a body present to define the ending. Even when I wanted to shake Ray, telling him to get a real life, I felt compelled to see how his story ends. Would he indeed have the motivation to shoot himself? Would his mysterious nemesis find him first? Would he die of constipation?