A rites of passage novel, told through stream of consciousness, Winger follows the plight of its hapless protagonist Ryan Dean West. Ryan is something of a floater, drifting between the various disparate groups at Pine Mountain school, and lusting after his best friend Annie. At its best, Winger is astute, sharply observed and has a wry witticism in its recording and recounting of the curious hinterland between childhood and adulthood, documenting those feelings of constantly being an outsider. Ryan is certainly not without charm and the abilities he shows to see the best in both people and situations certainly does a good deal to endear him.
At its worst, however, the novel is overlong, lacks any semblance of structure and yet retains just enough of an over-arching narrative that means it never quite wholly convinces as stream of consciousness with the result that it suffers from a rather peculiar disconnect. With judicious editing and greater thought on how to better integrate and capitalise upon Ryan’s humour and the art work that his character creates, Winger could have been a great comic novel offering insight into adolescence. As it is, it never quite reaches its potential and falls rather flat, particularly when compared to this author’s debut, Grasshopper Jungle.