Executive Times






2006 Book Reviews


There Will Never Be Another You by Carolyn See




(Mildly Recommended)




Click on title or picture to buy from amazon.com






Carolyn See’s new novel, There Will Never Be Another You, presents her view of living in a world facing terror. Through presenting an ensemble of interlocking family relationships, See highlights the special relationship between parents and children that endure, no matter what else happens. Here’s an excerpt, from the beginning of a chapter titled, “Phil,” pp. 28-33:


He saw the first cat on his way to work about seven in the morn­ing. It was gray against the gray of the curb, barely visible paws, limbs stretched to the maximum that only happens when cats die, its furry face not visible. Then he drove past and it was gone.

He saw his morning’s patients, dropped down to the cafeteria for coffee and a sandwich, sat alone by the window, looked out, and saw another one, black, lined up against a shrub, creating its own shadow; you could hardly see the thing. But it didn’t look good. He went back upstairs, holding his food in the elevator; he’d finish eating back at his desk.

From his office window he saw another, lopped over in the crotch of a tree—or no, it was farther up, really, out on a branch near the top. And he could see its face this time, pulled back in a grimace, jaws set wide. God!

It made him go out and ask Kathi if she’d noticed anything.

“Did you see those cats?”

She stopped what she was doing on the computer and looked at him.

“I’m sorry?”

“Those cats. I saw three dead cats this morning.”

“I hate those things. The way people come out here and feed them. They’re wild. And dirty.”

“Well, three of them are dead now. I saw three.”

“Probably some kind of distemper.”

“Do you think we ought to call somebody? Somebody to pick them up?” By we, he meant her, of course.

She gave him a thoughtful look and picked up the phone. “This is Dr. Fuchs’s office down in the Medical Center? Doc­tor says he’s seen three dead cats just this morning and someone ought to pick them up.” She looked up at him again. Where? she mouthed.

He told her. She repeated it to the person on the other end of the line. “Yes. Because he says it’s a health hazard, at the very least.”

He went back into his office and sipped at his cooling coffee. Not much to do. He went out past his receptionist again and picked up a magazine—Outdoor—and took it back inside with him. And looked absently, again, out his window.

A cherry picker had gotten here in record time and was creak­ing cautiously up into the tree outside and below his window. The guy in the picker was dressed in white, in what looked like a HAZ­MAT outfit except it didn’t have any lettering, and his face was cov­ered with a clear plastic mask. He was using pincers about three feet long. He reached gingerly out to the branch, pinched the cat, brought it back in to the platform he was standing on, and—Phil saw now—dropped it onto a stack of what had to be maybe eigh­teen or twenty other cats.

Phil picked up the phone and called his pal Fred, in the next wing. “Hey. Have you seen the cats?”

A female voice answered. “He stepped out of the office. May I have him call you back?”

“Uh, Nikki, this is Dr. Fuchs. If you’d have him give me a call back at his convenience.. . .“

But when Fred called back it was his own turn to be with a pa­tient, and they played tag like that until close to five that after­noon. One of his patients did mention that he’d seen two Animal Control trucks pulled up to the Emergency Room entrance, and could it be something like a pit bull attack? Because why else would they be there?

Phil got scared. He called Felicia.

“What is it?” she said. “What’s wrong?”

“Have you seen anything weird on television?”

“No, I’ve been out. I got all the knives sharpened. It cost seventy-two dollars! But you know that nick in the ham knife? They smoothed it over. It looks brand-new.”

“That’s good,” he said.

“What’s wrong?” Her voice was sharp.

“Nothing. I may be a little late, is all. Not too late. Maybe an hour.”

“You be sure and call me. Is it a brush fire? Do you want me to see if there’s a brush fire?”

“It’s nothing, honey.”

He went into a cubicle where a truly awful case of psoriasis universalis was waiting for him. Like a Hiroshima victim. His stomach tightened some more. This was just a kid, maybe in his twenties. Phil had tried a lot of treatments: saltwater baths, UV rays, whatever. The kid just got worse.

“You know, Jason, there’s another thing we can try. It’s kind of drastic, but it could be worth it. There are some hot springs in Mexicali; you go there for twenty-one days. You soak all day, and the condition gets better. You think your mother might be up for going with you? Sometimes just getting out of where you are can be a big help. There’s some mixture of minerals—they can’t dupli­cate it, but they know it works and they say it lasts. I can get you copies of some of the research.”

Big heavy tears rolled down the kid’s cheeks and dropped onto his raw chest. “It’s not going to work,” he cried. “Nothing’s going to fix this.”

“Ah, come on, Jason. Don’t say that.”

He knew he should touch the kid, take hold of his shoulder, pat him on the back, something. But he couldn’t.

He wrote out a prescription for a stronger ointment. Waited for the kid to put on his shirt. Even looked, not so covertly, at his watch. Picked up the cubicle phone when it rang.

“Can you get out for a drink?” Fred’s voice. Research scientist. Spent his days with rabbits and chickens.

“I’m with the last patient of the day.”

“Good. Outside the main doors in fifteen minutes.”

“There’s something I want to ask you about.” He watched the kid tuck in his shirt, duck his head to look in the wall mirror, run a comb through his hair.

“On the steps. Fifteen minutes.”

Fred was waiting for him. Five o’clock. Time for a drink. They started walking south, toward downtown Westwood, down long shallow cement steps, across the big brick hospital courtyard.

“Did you hear?” Fred asked.

“I was going to ask you.” His heart, his stomach clenched.

“They screwed up.”

“Someone in the bio lab. They’re having a shit fit over there. We’re all locked out.”

“Is that what it is with the cats?”

“Yeah. As long as it just stays with the cats. It started with some monkeys, or so I’ve been hearing, this long afternoon.”

“A virus? Bacteria?” Phil tried to keep his voice steady.

“They’re not saying.”

“Who’s the they?”

“Guys I know. And a secretary. And I talked to one of the Ani­mal Control people.”

“The Palomino?” Their favorite place to drink, down in the

It was five blocks away, downhill. Walking back to their cars would give them a chance to sober up a little.

“What about the media? Shouldn’t someone tell them what’s going on?”

“We don’t know what’s going on.”

They walked in silence, past pedicure parlors and movie thea­ters and fast-food restaurants—Westwood was nothing like the pretty little California college town he remembered from his youth—and went in gratefully through Palomino’s big doors into a big room and up to a long, swank, curving bar. Big abstract paintings covered the walls. Manet reproductions, Leger. They both ordered martinis.

“It could just be distemper.”

“Or someone got sick and tired of all the feral cats on campus.


“Well, a lot of people don’t like them. Kathi doesn’t like them.

Fred looked interested. “Want to go find out about the mon­keys?”

“Hell, no!”


I read There Will Never Be Another You just after I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. In some ways, the subject matter was the same, but the approach to the theme was miles apart. My rating of There Will Never Be Another You was lower because of how much more I liked The Road.


Steve Hopkins, November 20, 2006



Buy There Will Never Be Another You

@ amazon.com

Go To Hopkins & Company Homepage



Go to 2006 Book Shelf

Go to Executive Times Archives


Go to The Big Book Shelf: All Reviews





*    2006 Hopkins and Company, LLC


The recommendation rating for this book appeared

 in the December 2006 issue of Executive Times


URL for this review: http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/Books/There Will Never Be Another You.htm


For Reprint Permission, Contact:

Hopkins & Company, LLC • 723 North Kenilworth AvenueOak Park, IL 60302
Phone: 708-466-4650 • Fax: 708-386-8687

E-mail: books@hopkinsandcompany.com