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The Renunciation

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Michael Winston is on the verge of losing everything. He’s lost his girlfriend. His job is hanging by a thread. His future, it seems, hinges on flying thousands of miles to the wilds of Costa Rica to track down a championship surfer who, for unknown reasons at the height of his career, became a recluse three years ago. Though Michael’s searching for a story, what he finds in Costa Rica is of far greater significance than a mere ripping good yarn . .
Kirkus Reviews

In this novella, a journalist’s story on a famous, elusive surfer becomes a journey of self-discovery.

Michael Winston is understandably worried he’ll no longer be a staff writer for a New York City magazine when his boss and mentor exits. Luckily, the search for a replacement editor has the publication’s new owners torn between Michael and veteran sports journalist Sam Buell. The owners make it a contest—whoever writes the most “epic” story wins the job. Michael flies to Costa Rica to interview professional surfer Louis Giroux. He’s a two-time world champion who hasn’t competed in three years; he hasn’t even shown his face outside of endorsements in ads. Michael has a series of questions to fling at Louis, who’s laid back but initially evasive. But the two find common ground, and it’s not long before Michael basks in the sun on the sandy beaches and tries his hand at surfing. Ultimately, the journalist must decide if the editor gig is what he truly wants or if his future lies elsewhere. McGlothlin shines a bright light on equally appealing Michael and Louis. Michael wonders if he’s got a shot against Sam, who’s shadowing Tiger Woods at the Masters, and readers eventually learn why Louis transformed from a celebrity into a recluse. While most of the enjoyable narrative is as easygoing as Louis, his manager, Nick Cecil, who’s in Costa Rica, is a villain of sorts. Nick tries to dictate how Michael conducts his interview, and his negativity clashes with the otherwise good vibes. But Nick can’t overwhelm the serenity of the beach scenes and the surfers catching waves. At one point, Michael muses: “Far below the porch was a completely uninhabited beach and a picture-perfect surf break. It was the same gentle sound of lapping waves that last night had dipped me into a deep sleep.” The novella’s closing, though predictable, beautifully suits its prevailing mood.

A breezy, engaging tale with a bright, tropical terrain and intriguing insights.