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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
As one of the top sales agents in his office, Phil Kyle has had his share of selling and of training new agents. But he is done and does not want to take on new clients. He has enough money to retire and starts a new life in a cabin on the downslope of a hill offering a view of the Catskill Mountains. This sudden change of atmosphere is triggered by his realization that every relationship that he had seems to be an illusion, and this epiphany drives him to leave his job and old life. Thus, as he exchanges old associations for true associations, according to an I-Ching passage, his new vicinity will offer him new friendships and situations that will make him weed out any false narrative in his existence and learn to fall in love in the process. This is the story of Species of One by Matt McMahon.
Matt McMahon’s novel is a reminder of popular films that celebrate the joys of isolation. It delivers the message that the power of seclusion can offer the benefits of meditation and reassessment. Kyle is not fully chaining himself to the hermitic life but simply wishes to commune more with nature and take advantage of the beauty of silence. McMahon digs into the stream of consciousness of his central protagonist, a technique that gives the narrative a strong sense of philosophical reflection. Anyone who loves stories about introspection is likely to enjoy Species of One. The conversations are particularly absorbing in their intelligence and humor. The idea of self-assessment is not a new theme in novels and films, but this one engages the reader in justifying why we all need to take time for ourselves.