Tag Archives: Funny

Truly, Madly, Guilty: The Unexpected Pleasure

I don’t believe in diets. In fact I’m pretty vocal about how ridiculous and counterproductive they are. Part of the reason is because of the fast-binge cycle: your body isn’t built for nutrient deprivation and so you get hungrier and hungrier until you find yourself crouched over the tub of icecream in the middle of the night wondering for what purpose you ever started out. Continue reading

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Filed under Bestseller, Fiction

Heroes of the Frontier: Preview of Dave Eggers’ New Novel (That should have been a short story; Or scrapped)

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I am a Dave Eggers completist. I think because I really, really loved A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius I keep reading everything he writes hoping to recapture the joy of that first read (why did I love AHWOSG so much? Probably because it was the first thing I’d read like it. A like every first encounter aren’t we all always trying to get back to recapture that moment of intoxicating newness?).

But with Heroes of the Frontier the fierce loyalty of fresh love has faded to embarrassment to be (seen as) still attached to the overly confident novel, unaware of its lackluster performance and reliant on the coattails of previous success. But I want to love Eggers, and so I read for kernels to warrant continued affection: Eggers writes good comedy. Josie, a former-dentist, has quasi-kidnapped her children and taken them into the wilds of Alaska so that she can find meaning. Some funny scenes ensue. Some smart writing.

But given the sole source of conflict in the novel is Josie’s uncertainty about whether her life has, or could have, or ever had, meaning (and whether children might be what we all pin our hopes on for meaning, but find never live up to those expectations), Eggers has a challenge in maintaining interest. There’s only so much hand wringing, soul searching while drinking wine and staring at the stars that one reader can tolerate. (Especially when it’s a reprieve, almost entirely, of the hand wringing of Your Fathers, Where Are They?) Which is to say the psychological conflict and drama doesn’t have enough complexity or resonance to do much but bore. Loathe as I am to suggest that short stories might have any merit at all, I have to say I think this 300 page beast of different campsites and highway driving could be suitably pared down to a couple of nights in a tent and the same realization: we make meaning in what we do and who we do it with, and it’s never going to come from money or things or external validation (alas).

The book hits shelves later in July. If you, like me, can’t resist Eggers (like you can’t resist Atwood), you know you’ll read it anyway, so go, read it, and let me know if I’ve gotten it all wrong. If you can resist the siren call, then go see the movie for A Hologram for the King and let that be your Eggers fix. Plus Tom Hanks. And let me know whether the movie is any good.

Want other Eggers reviews? See Zeitoun, the Circle,  earlier novels predate the blog.

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Filed under American literature, Fiction, Worst Books

The Family Fang

Oh I loved Kevin Wilson’s *The Family Fang*! Funny, whimsical, smart. The premise: two performance/conceptual artists have two children A and B who they raise as part of their art. The children and parents perform their disruptive, chaotic art as the children grow-up. Once grown, the children abandon their parents/the art to pursue their respective lives as an actor and writer. A split timeline allows the reader to follow the present of the two children (Annie and Buster) as they grapple with failures in their lives and the disappearance of their parents as well as the past lives of their art pieces/growing up.

The interwoven scenes and the unfolding plot let the reader explore – through humour, the absurd and a reworking of the classic take on the modern American family – what it means to make art, what constitutes commitment and trust, what we owe our parents/children and the limits of familial love.

A terrific read.

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Filed under Fiction, Funny, Prize Winner

The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole: Mediocre

Loathe as I am to say anything negative about Adrian Mole (being, as I am, a lifelong reader and admirer of Sue Townsend’s work) I found the “Lost Diaries” a bit of a stretch in terms of plot and tone. It wasn’t as funny as I’m used to and seemed more like a franchise grab than like anything really innovative or exciting was happening with Adrian’s character. Disappointing.

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Filed under British literature, Fiction, Funny