Exeunt by Ralph Bland
Exeunt is a story about the bonds and limits of friendship among five middle aged friends in the waning days of 1988. Set in the fictional town of Abington, Tennessee, the novel concerns the final week of business for Overton’s Market, an old grocery store where all five of the men once worked together during high school and college and where two still remain as mainstay employees.
During post-Christmas week, when all the men are present in Abington for the holidays, the last week of business for the old store looms as a newer building across the lot prepares to open – a larger, more modern, and totally antiseptic structure that belies the romance and antique charm of Overton’s.
The five men embark on a joint quest to close the old store in style, spending time together recollecting their past lives as a group, and learning how to deal with approaching their forties and leaving behind the world of their youth. The road is rocky and the lessons to be learned are not always pretty, but something in the town’s air and their delicate balance between the past and the future forces each man in this group of Peter Pan dreamers to try and move forward in their lives, if only with a sigh and a parting glance back at what was once exclusively theirs.
This is a heart-warming tale of the limits of friendship. The five friends look back with nostalgia and forward with hope.
Ralph Bland is the author of Stars Rain Sun Moon, Ace, seven other novels, and two collections of short stories. A native Nashvillian, he lives with his wife and spoiled dogs on the outskirts of Music City, USA, disguised sometimes as a normal person.
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