Albert Lippincott is a fifty-seven-year-old mailman living in Nestor. He is a little strange – suffering from some mental illnesses and very rigidly stuck in his ways, Albert had a life of potential that went strange. He has a strict routine that he strictly adheres to, a failed marriage and a deceased lover, it all seems very strange to live in Albert’s world. Stunted familial interactions leave him relatively lonely. Mailman (as Albert thinks of himself and how he refers to himself) is a solid guy who loves his job. In fact, there is the possibility that he loves his job too much. Mailman has slipped into the little pastime of stealing some mail (or borrowing it, if you want to see it from his persepctive), taking it home, opening it, copying it, perusing it, sealing it and then delivering it. One such letter proves to be a problem though when the man he is to deliver it to, young and artistic Jared Sprain, is found dead in his apartment. Mailman panics, assuming that all mail will need to be accounted for, that if he does not return it there will be hell to pay. This is the little pebble that dislodges and causes a landslide in Mailman’s comfortable and predictable, routine-filled life.
Mailman ultimately returns the letter, though his anger issues make this (yet again) a very loud and explosive trip for him. He has a young girl watching him, and he hastily departs the row of mailboxes at around midnight, fleeing the scene. The entire ordeal plays on his mind, making him think about experiences of his past. He is jolted, however, when Kelly Vireo, the witness of the return of the stolen letter, accuses the Mailman of anger issues and tampering with mail, threatening to report him. Everything is stacked against Mailman, and he is terrified that she will make good on his threat. He starts to become a bit more paranoid, and thinks back in time. In the replays of his past, Mailman walks us through his time as a college student, his expulsion from school, his stint in the mental hospital where he met his wife Lenore, and how their marriage ultimately dissolved. He indulges us the memories of his disturbing upbringing as well as the projects he attempted to undertake in his life, such as his botched attempt to join the Peace Corps.
In the present, Mailman is dealing with severe bruising on his side from having hurt himself on his car door and later falling down in his house. His fantastic health that he prides himself on is taking a little bit of a beating, something that he is not overly thrilled about, though he is having a particularly bad week. Len Ronk, his superior at the post office, is seemingly taking a closer look at him, which makes him nervous considering the missing and later returned Sprain letter as well as Kelly Vireo sniffling around. His sister, Gillian, a washed out actress living in New York, is not a particular help to him either, seeing as everything seems like a show to him. Mailman continues his life as normal, though he is spending much more time in his head thinking back on his lover Semma, his botched marriage with Lenore, his incredible amounts of anger at the world as well as the contribution he is bringing to it. It seems that he is losing his grip on the present, slipping into a deeper depression, forgetting things about him that make him himself. Before long, though, he has a problem. It seems that an investigation has been launched about him, and Mailman now stands on the precipice of a decision: fight of flight.
Will Mailman run, shirk the responsibilities and the consequences for what he has done? Will he ever get his obsessive need to read other people’s mail in check? Will he be able to continue in life, or has he reached the crossroads, where he either curls up or gets back up and soldiers on? What about his past has made him the way he is? Is Mailman even remotely able to make changes in his life now? What will happen with the investigation that has been levied against him?
An 8/10 for Mailman: A Novel. So this was my beloved Eric’s recommendation. I had a little bit of difficulty sourcing it, but I eventually did. Then I had difficulty getting it, because South African postal workers (ironic, I know) love to strike. It took an age to get to me, so I read a lot of other books in between it. But it finally arrived and I really wanted to know what it was about, especially seeing as it was Eric of all people that gave the recommendation. It took me a while to work through because I was reading a lot in between it then work took over then I read nothing for weeks, and that really sucked. But irrespective of. By the way, doubtful Probies, the recommendation was a damn fine one, I will have you know! Mailman: A Novel was such a bizarre and strange read, and the main character, Albert Lippincott, aka Mailman, was just so… weird. I mean he was disgusting and disturbing and then in the same breath you cannot help but pity him, to feel so deeply for the poor man. So he is repulsive and pitiable all in one breath. That is insane! Anyhow, the book’s layout is quite cool, skipping between the week of the present, and delving back into places of Mailman’s past, exploring incidences, feelings, relationships and occurrences that he was a part of, etc. I liked that, how it was not linear, but that was all relevant and came together. Mailman’s character itself is questionable, as well as his totally grotesque relationship that he has with his sister, too. That was something that did not and does not make sense, and definitely the kind of place to employ Marty Hart’s desire not to know more than we have to. As for the writing style, it was engaging and interesting, I enjoyed how it came together. The conversations written in the book were totally bizarre and laid out crazily, but it is perfect for what this is: an adventure in Mailman’s head. His world gradually starts unraveling, and something that starts slowly and by a small thread starts to speed up and become stranger and madder by the second, doing nothing but drawing you further into the strange recesses of Mailman’s mind.