Out of Wedlock

Fiction - Literary
215 Pages
Reviewed on 03/08/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I'd written books of literary criticism and a biography but didn't publish fiction until 2020. I was born under something of a cloud, since my father Ross Lockridge, Jr. was a suicide at the age of thirty-three, just as his unagented attempt at the Great American Novel, "Raintree County," reached number one on the nation's best-seller lists. Not much of an incentive for me to write novels of my own! I wrote a biography of him, "Shade of the Raintree," published by Viking in 1994. After I retired from NYU in 2016, I pursued a second career as a novelist. My four satirical novels, "The Enigma Quartet," aren't attempts at the Great American Novel but they aspire to human meaning within the magic circle of metaphysical farce.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cloie Belle Daffon for Readers' Favorite

Larry Lockridge’s Out of Wedlock is part of the Enigma Quartet series. Jess Freeman has spontaneous eidetic imagery as psychiatrists would call it. He will disconnect and go into a trance for hours to escape reality. He also has terrible nightmares that make him scream and wake those around him. Through the years, Jess has learned to live with his reality and knows he is more than just his nightmares. He is a plastic surgeon who has endured misfortunes and, along the way, found companions, each with their own story to show and tell.

Out of Wedlock by Larry Lockridge is a transformative, fresh, and unique tale that is both humorous and intimate. The characters and plotline are extraordinary and quirky and I found myself drawn in by the lighthearted tone and lyrical narrative. Lockridge weaves together an unconventional tale of fluid identities, intimacy, and more. Jess’ perspective of his adventures and experiences is eccentric yet charming. Despite Jess’ confident front, there is an underlying vulnerability to his words. An example is when he talks about his nightmares and being out of touch and out of sync with Natalia. At the heart of the misadventures and troubles faced by Jess and his companions, there is a lesson of perseverance and hope. Despite the missteps and challenges, they gain companionship, understanding, and affection.

The deeper I got into the story, the more attached and charmed I was by the distinctive characters that appear in Lockridge's Enigma Quartet series. It is a pleasure to have experienced and joined them in their adventures, to have heard their stories, and reveled in their discoveries. Included are delicate, black-and-white sketches between chapters that add depth and visualization to the story. Overall, it is a well-balanced and enjoyable read that charmed me right from the start! I will remember this book for a long time. Excellent work.

Grant Leishman

Out of Wedlock by Larry Lockridge is a deeply thoughtful and mildly amusing look at relationships and life’s perspectives. Jess Freeman spent his childhood in and out of various foster homes. Despite his difficult start in life, he has managed to become well-educated and now practices as a plastic surgeon, albeit a very middling plastic surgeon, in New York. When Jess has the opportunity to save the face of a badly injured young woman, he sets in motion a chain of events that will define his and his circle of friends’ lives for many years to come. From a young age, Jess has always been troubled by the trances he falls into, often at the most inconvenient times. As a man who never knew his birth parents, he wonders if these trances are in some way hereditary. Jess and his various new acquaintances all seem linked in some way and serendipitously appear in his life in a search for love, happiness, and meaning. It is a search that will take them back to Jess’ roots in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and will show them what is truly important in life.

Out of Wedlock was a joyous surprise to me and a wonderful read. This is the second book in a row I have read by Larry Lockridge and the two books could not have been more different in their style, yet each was extremely satisfying in its own right. Unlike The Great Cypress Think Tank which was heavy on farce and humor to deliver its message, this story is focused more on the interconnectedness of groups of people and how we are all linked to one another if we only have an eye open for the serendipity of life. What I loved about this story was the deep, underlying messages that the characters espoused through their actions; that you have to give before you can receive; that friendship, loyalty, and togetherness are far more powerful than the instant attractions of lust, or sex; that love has nothing to do with physical relations; and perhaps most importantly that despite our desires to constantly remodel ourselves, in the end, we are happiest and most fulfilled when we revert to who we are. The characters are wonderfully overdrawn and relatable. Lockridge has the amazing ability to conjure up mental pictures through the use of historical personages and their work or prose. This book confirms that the author has a broad range of styles and ideas that will appeal to a wide audience. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and can highly recommend it.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Out of Wedlock by Larry Lockridge is a gender-bending story about identity and modern love. This is also the third installment of Lockridge’s Enigma Quartet. Although we follow the lives of four modern couples, the focal point of the story is Jess Freeman, our protagonist. Jess is a plastic surgeon who suffers from lucid-like trances when he performs surgery. It follows the life of Jess after successfully altering a woman’s face, launching a series of events that lead him into humorous situations. He also meets different, eccentric characters, all in search of a new identity and new purpose in life. In a world of modern love and the advent of technology, these individuals struggle to find some authentic version of themselves through various misadventures and plot twists, eventually leading them to discover a new perspective on love and the community.

Out of Wedlock by Larry Lockridge is a chaotic mess of emotions and sexual exploration. It provides us with a new perspective on modern love and the things we hope for as individuals in a constantly evolving world. Lockridge treads with grace as he presents his stories with compassion and openness. The search for identity is the prevailing theme and Lockridge provides us with a plethora of philosophical and engrossing scenarios, and absurdity, which is effortlessly weaved in. Marcia Scanlon’s illustrations grace some of the pages, which makes some parts of the book more trippy. This is a fun and humane story for those who are struggling with self-identity.