Employed as a “Listener” for the fast-food company Neetsa Pizza, Leonard answers client complaints for a living. He never has to leave the garage where he lives and works. One day, Leonard begins to receive mysterious phone calls from the explorer Marco Polo; at the same time all of the client complaints cease for several days. Leonard becomes nervous that Neetsa Pizza has achieved high levels of client satisfaction and he begins to worry about the future of his job, leading him to venture out into the world of unpredictability, fall in love with a woman named Sally, and try to save his nephew, Felix, whose special powers caused Felix to be sent back into the thirteenth century. Leonard is required to use his skills as a Listener at Neetsa Pizza to learn from people of the past how to find his nephew, which includes meeting characters who find power in the Hebrew language.
Rachel Cantor has created a unique time and place, with characters who want to make meaning in their high-tech, oftentimes confusing world. Technology and time travel interfere with and dictate the lives of the characters in this entertaining and humorous fantasy novel. As in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, people are not always who they seem to be, and as in Kafka’s courtroom, the University Library in A Highly Unlikely Scenario has many secret doors, rooms, and stairways that lead to surprising information that helps Leonard, Sally, and his family find their destiny. Short moments and scenes, like mini-chapters, are titled with humorous phrases, leading the reader to continue on, and making this book a fast read. At times, the many different settings and characters can feel a little disorienting. Readers of science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian novels will enjoy the world that Cantor has created through the experiences of Leonard.
Jamie Wendt is the author of the poetry collection Fruit of the Earth, published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company (2018) and winner of the 2019 National Federation of Press Women Book Award. Her poetry has been published in various literary journals and anthologies, including Feminine Rising: Voices of Power and Invisibility, Lilith, Raleigh Review, Minerva Rising, Third Wednesday, and Saranac Review. Her essays and book reviews have been published in Green Mountains Review, the Forward, Literary Mama, and others. She holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska Omaha. She teaches high school English and lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.