Mateo Irigaray has come home to end his miserable life. A child prodigy, he was the pride of Hudson County. Born to a Colombian mother who died giving birth to him, he was raised by his older sister and surrounded by an assortment of unusual family members. Though young and inexperienced, it didn’t take his sister long to realize that Mateo was unusual. By the age of two, he could read and write. As a boy, he could learn a foreign language in a matter of weeks.
But now he’s depressed and ready to end it all.
Learning that the famous genius has returned, Melody More, a reporter with the local newspaper, agrees to try and convince him to give the paper an interview. But the only quote he’ll give her is, “All I want to do is die!” In spite of his anger and rudeness, she finds herself strangely attracted to the surly, slovenly man who begs her to leave and not interrupt his plans. As their relationship develops—Melody returns every day with an assortment of tempting food and wine—they realize that they share a complicated history of family secrets and betrayals.
From New Jersey to Havana to Switzerland, Rivera peppers this off-beat love story with a range of eccentric characters: Melody’s boss and former lover Xoan Xavier Contreras, known to the newspaper’s readers as Triple X for his triple x-rated exposés; her sister Odette, who went unnamed for an entire year because of her mother’s revulsion at her Thalidomide-deformed hands; and most importantly, Melody’s mother, who was obsessed with perfection and having a child prodigy of her very own.