Will Baggett, the Weather Wizard, has it all. He loves his job as Channel Seven's weatherman and after 20 years on the air he is one of the most familiar faces in Raleigh, North Carolina. People on the street ask for his autograph, and he can't set foot in the local mall without a friendly voice yelling, "Yo, Will, what's the weather?" Will's charmed life includes a good-looking wife with a talent for high-commission real estate sales and an equally good-looking son in medical school. Perfect family, perfect life, and it's all about to come crashing down around Will's ears. The blow comes abruptly with the sale of Channel Seven to a Chicago conglomerate with big ideas for the Raleigh market. The first corporate casualty is Will Baggett, and soon Will is out on the street, out of a job, with a non-compete clause in his contract that thwarts any hope of revenge. On the heels of this rude awakening comes the realization that the family who played second fiddle to Will's career has moved on with their lives while he was too self-absorbed to notice. When Will lands in jail under an avalanche of legal complications that begins with a minor traffic violation, his midlife crisis becomes a midlife disaster. As he lies on the bunk in his jail cell, it dawns on him: "On the surface, everything is gone; but if everything is gone, anything is possible." That's the way he plays it, and that's where the charm of this novel lies, as Will sets out to reinvent himself and to face his public humiliation and private failures.

Captain Saturday is the fourth novel by Robert Inman, a former Raleigh television anchorman who has won a growing regional audience with books like Dairy Queen Days. While Captain Saturday is a Southern novel in the geographical sense, the warm and reassuring message conveyed by the hearty, resilient and delightfully human cast of characters is universal, as is Inman's wryly humorous take on the suburbanization of everything, not just Dixie. The Cape Fear River may run through Will Baggett's part of the world, but in the hands of an observant and inventive author like Inman, it is the characters' genius for living, not the place where they live, that makes this novel memorable.

Mary Garrett reads and writes in Middle Tennessee.

 

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