Jim Finley—a recently retired English teacher living alone on the shifting edge of San Francisco—has been set, unwittingly, on the back porch of life. Trying to harmonize the voices in his head, he sits most days by his stack of “to-do” books until, one day, his daughter comes home with the worst news of her life. Everything changes. As his broken heart reengages, he steps back into a new world. He sees his ex-wife has launched into a larger life than the one they’d shared. He is surprised to find it easier to talk to his son’s immigrant girlfriend, or even the remains of a Russian saint, than to the young man he’s raised. He misconnects with Carol—his first date in decades—a woman he enjoys talking with but doesn’t quite hear. Set in the pre-tech calm before the turn of this century, Outer Sunset is a deeply felt story about the intimate place where long-lasting growth occurs in our lives; how we revise, or live without, our dreams; how to love the flaws of those closest to you and watch a child grow away into someone better than you’d imagined; and how to be shaken by beauty amidst unimaginable loss and remain standing.
“It’s rare for a novel to probe the psyches of its characters as deeply as Mark Ernest Pothier does in Outer Sunset. Many writers don’t even suspect such depths exist. They do, though, and here’s the proof.”—Richard Russo, author, Empire Falls
“The father and daughter at the heart of this beautiful novel entirely captured mine. Mark Ernest Pothier has written an affecting story, both serious and funny, about a self-sufficient middle-aged man who finds himself suddenly confronted with the messy work of love and forgiveness in the face of looming mortality. I read it with a sense of quiet urgency and finished it with great satisfaction.”—Julia Glass, author, Three Junes
“Outer Sunset traces one solitary man’s late reawakening and rediscovery of what was and still is best in his life. Mark Ernest Pothier’s debut is a wise and gentle meditation on last chances and the power of hope.”—Stewart O’Nan, author, Emily, Alone
“Outer Sunset is elegant but not showy, straightforward but not simple, serious but not humorless. Its subjects—money, disease, divorce, death, belief—are laid out in a pattern as complex as the layers of San Francisco life that every page of this novel reveals. The characters are complex too, rich and full of mystery and revelations and surprises. This is a deeply pleasurable and satisfying read.”—Valerie Sayers, author, The Age of Infidelity and Other Stories
“Beautiful and touching, Outer Sunset tells a stirring father-daughter tale about facing impending loss with faith, hope, forgiveness, and healing.”—Foreword, starred review
“Outer Sunset is an altogether impressive debut, a wise, elegantly written book about a transformational moment for a family and their city. Insightful and bittersweet, it is—without qualification—a terrific novel.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Deftly scripted from beginning to end, Outer Sunset is an original, compelling, memorable read by Mark Ernest Pothier, an exceptionally gifted novelist with a genuine flair for the kind of narrative-driven storytelling and impressively crafted characters that keeps his readers raptly engaged and fully involved.”—Midwest Book Review