The Underwood

Patty Osborne

The Underwood by P.G. Tarr (Anvil Press) is another sort of immigrant story. Its hero, Foster Lutz, aged twenty-two, manages to make it out of his hometown of Lakewood all the way to Room 136 at the Underwood Hotel.

The Underwood is a rundown hotel that was once the haunt of movie stars, entertainers and mobsters. Lutz has been hired to play piano in the lounge and as part of the deal he gets to stay in Room 136. This is a good thing because Lutz has never been anywhere and he's never played in front of an audience (he lied in the interview). Lutz doesn't get out much; in fact he doesn't go out at all, because the hotel offers everything he needs and it feels just like home. But there is a story here as Lutz gets together with two other musicians, finds himself a girlfriend and eventually goes outside.

The Underwood was written in three days (it won last year's Three-Day Novel Writing contest) so it's not a huge book, but it's funny and, at the risk of sounding Hollywood, heartwarming. And it's easy to read more than once.

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