The protagonist of Herman’s 2005 novel Dog, J.T. Rosen, returns in a new novel that casts her as the mentor of a young poet and sends her hurtling back into a difficult relationship of her youth in this story of loneliness, misdirection, misunderstanding, longing, and redemption that traces five characters as they come together and apart in a series of interlocking portraits.
Jacob Lieb is a young magician with a specialty in close-up magic who reconnects—begrudgingly—with his estranged father at the urging of the young poet with whom he falls in love. The poet, Caroline Forester, and her mother, Jeanie, struggle with their own relationship as Caroline grows close to Jacob’s father, Martin Lieberman—and an improbable friendship develops between Lieberman and Jeanie Forester, even as Rosen and Lieberman, Jill Rosen’s old flame, circle each other warily.
Herman’s abiding interest, in all of her work, has been in what makes and drives—and complicates, and undermines—relationships: marriages, parents and children and grandchildren, siblings, cousins, romances, friendships. The missed connections and misunderstandings between people who yearn for connectedness and understanding are at the center of Close-Up—as is poetry . . . and magic.