‘Windfall Nights’ explores friendships

Kelly Hurla / Washburn Review

As soon as I read the first page of “Windfall Nights,” I knew I had come across something unique.

The author, William Claypool, tells an unconventional story of a friendship that begins late in the main character Julian’s undergraduate college career. 

The first page drew me in, although the first two chapters were a little slow and hard to follow.  After this point however the plot picks up. 

The story starts with Julian and his wife on a cruise ship outside of Vietnam. Julian spends time reminiscing about an old friend. You’re then taken back to an earlier time in Vietnam where Julian meets his friend, Thomas. The timing of these events left me slightly confused.  In the third chapter though, the reader is taken to the beginning of this friendship and get to watch it develop. 

Julian takes a job working nights as a hotel bellman.  Although Thomas works days as the hotel handyman, they become close.  Both characters bond easily because they have faced struggles in their lives. 

It’s interesting because it’s an unlikely, but at the same time, believable story.  The characters are relatable, even with Thomas’s unpredictability, his struggles are what keep the book going.

After a climactic chapter, the timing jumps around slightly again.  And in the end, you’re brought back to the beginning with Julian and his wife.

It’s truly a story of the people that stay with us long in life, even if only by memories.

I felt like I really knew who the characters in the book were. I found myself wanting to stop by the hotel and have a chat with the few residents or employees.  While I knew what they were thinking or feeling, I wasn’t always sure of their appearance. I actually enjoy how the characters’ descriptions are never developes, which allows me to envision my own characters in my head. 

As I mentioned earlier, the order of events in the story may be confusing at times.  Nevertheless, I believe this is truly how someone would look back at events, especially about how we can’t always forget our memories no matter how much we want to. 

“Examining the old scars of memory is always risky and not my particular talent,” Julian narrates. “Even happy recollections are dappled with the reality that their time is gone.”

Overall, I think that this was a great read.  It might be a little slow to start out, but it’s definitely worth it to stick it out and keep reading.  There’s a hint of mystery, a lot of hoping for the best and just rooting for people to do the right thing.