Perpetual Check, by Rich Wallace

Rich Wallace's novel Perpetual Check is set at a regional chess tournament. Two brothers—sports star Zeke and chubby, retiring Randy—are competing, and the idea of playing against each other has placed additional stress on their already-strained relationship. The boys are being pressured to win by their "stage dad" father, whose heavy-handed tactics bring out the worst in them both: Randy's passivity and Zeke's desire to pass the buck. The book moves swiftly through the 24-hour-long tournament, bringing the boys ever closer to the possibility of a brother-versus-brother final match.

Clocking in at $15.99 and a mere 112 pages, Perpetual Check is both short and expensive—two big minuses in our book. That said, it is also highly entertaining, and Wallace's portrayal of Randy and Zeke's grudging affection for one another is note-perfect. The boys' father is less plausible (although he does make for a satisfyingly unpleasant antagonist, being racist, sexist, and an all-purpose jerk), but the minor characters in the book were extremely well-developed, particularly in light of the small amount of screen time they were given. We would have loved to have seen what Mr. Wallace would have done with a hundred more pages and, well, an actual plot, but Perpetual Motion still manages to offer a remarkably nuanced portrait of a fraternal bond.

[Review based on publisher-provided copy.]
Posted by: Julianka


03 Mar, 2010 04:32 PM @ version 0

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