In the anonymous office park of a modern software company, whip-smart software engineer Henry Hurt is a man in the middle: of life, of career, and of self-assessment. Henry is mired in his corporate responsibilities until his deathless office existence is torpedoed by the loss of his mother.
Overcome by "the pall," Henry seeks escape in a quest for love and purpose, which is occasioned by a crisis in his company's fortunes. Dodging an Iago-like rival, he finds love with a colleague in his department, endangers his bond with his family, and finally confronts the single urgent question of his life.
The Adventurist is about relationships: Henry has complicated ones with his sister, Gretchen, who has stayed at home with their father; his lover Jane, a sleek and efficient mirror image of Henry; and a tantalizing potential girlfriend, Madison, the ultimate free spirit. But his relationship to the responsibilities in that anonymous office park may change his fortunes even more than the women in his life.
Hipps's debut novel peels back the layers of one man's seemingly monotonous life to reveal the deeply felt desire beneath, and the consequences of embracing one's innate thirst for adventure. Henry Hurt is a software engineer at a corporation in an unnamed city in the American South. His mother died a year ago, he's nursing an attraction to a married co-worker, and the company for which he works is struggling to turn a profit. To break through his overwhelming angst or "the pall," as he calls it Hurt decides to take his life circumstances in his own hands, more doggedly pursuing both purpose and fulfillment in his work and love. But in so doing, he endangers his career and relationships, forcing him to question what can truly bring him contentment and meaning. Hurt is a fascinating, if at times frustrating, protagonist; his is a middling existence that obscures an existential dread. He's self-aware and observant, the perfect narrator for a story that feels like the slow-motion collapse of a man who's already on the edge when the reader meets him. But rather than leaving him to wallow, the novel ends on a sense of hope predicated on the potential in a clean break and a fresh start. Deeply human, at times funny, and laced throughout with reflection on the crushing weight of the familiar, this novel is an engaging and nuanced exploration of life.