Archive for December, 2013

09
Dec
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 52: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Unknown-1Longtime readers may remember that Neil Gaiman and I have a bit of an up-and-down relationship. Sometimes (Stardust, Neverwhere), he and I are on the same page. Sometimes (Coraline, The Graveyard Book), I have trouble deciding what I think about him. And sometimes (hello, American Gods), I just can’t even. I think a lot of my issues with Neil Gaiman boil down to the fact that I am a geek, and therefore, I am supposed to love Neil Gaiman. And while I think he is a wonderfully talented and imaginative writer, he just might not be the writer for me.

And this is pretty much how I felt while reading TOATEOTL (how’s that for an acronym?). I liked it just fine. I thought parts of it were quite lovely, actually. But did I love it? No. Would I put it at the top of a list of my books of the year? No. But should you read it? Sure. Yes. Indeed.

By now, almost everyone knows the story. An unnamed narrator returns to his childhood home for a funeral. While visiting his former neighborhood, he starts to remember things he hasn’t thought of in 40 years…and the story takes off from there.

Mostly told from the perspective of a bookish, lonely, 7 year old boy, we are soon thrown into a story of memories. And the thing about memories is…are they always completely reliable? Does our now-grown narrator actually believe the things he’s started to remember once he pulls up to the Hempstock farmhouse? Or does he just not want to believe these things, because, really, how could they possibly be true?

I liked the fact that the bulk of the story was told by a 7 year old. I liked his innocence and the complete trust he had in his new friend Lettie. I loved his ability to be bowled over by a delicious piece of honeycomb, when really, he had other things he should have been worrying about. And I loved the pure way that he looked at the world and its people, in a very black/white, good/evil manner.

And to be honest, I liked a lot more about the story. And I found it pretty scary. The stuff with his dad and the bathtub? Terribly frightening. The woman made of pink and grey cloth? Eek!

So what am I so “bleh” about? Honestly, I’m not even sure. But I just don’t “enjoy” the Neil Gaiman experience as much as I would like. This wasn’t a very long book, but I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me over a week to read it. I just didn’t really care. The pages (some of which, yes, were beautifully written), just didn’t call out to me. Sorry.

But I’ll keep trying. One of these days the right Neil Gaiman book might just come along, and I’ll be ready for it when it does.

04
Dec
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 51: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

UnknownI never read The Silver Linings Playbook, but I did see the movie and liked it. But now, having read Matthew Quick’s more recent book, I’m wondering…do all of his books have to do with young people and mental illness? I’m just curious.

Leonard Peacock is a high school senior with a somewhat strange family life. His father was a huge one-hit wonder back in the 80s, but has since disappeared to somewhere in South America in order to evade the IRS. He is also an alcoholic and drug addict, and all around irresponsible adult. Leonard’s mom is a former model, and now a fashion designer who lives in New York City. She tries to visit Leonard on the weekends sometimes, but often forgets. Leonard lives alone in his suburban Philadelphia home, trying his best to figure out life.

He’s not doing a very good job.

As the book starts off, on the morning of Leonard’s 18th birthday, Leonard is packing his backpack for school. Not with books, but with a gun he can use to kill his former best friends, and then himself.

As the story goes on, we learn all about Leonard and his former friend Asher. We also meet Leonard’s other “friends” — including the one teacher Leonard trusts and respects, and the elderly neighbor that Leonard spends a lot of time watching old Bogart movies with.

No doubt at all that Matthew Quick is a great writer. But something about this book just rubbed me the wrong way. I think my major problem was reading it as a parent and being constantly furious at Leonard’s parents — his mother, in particular — and not being able to get past their absence. However, there were many parts where Quick’s brilliance got the best of me. Leonard writes himself letters from the future, in order to try and convince himself that his life will indeed be better someday. I loved these parts, and almost wish the entire book had been written as such.

I’m curious about Quick’s other works, and will probably give him another try…just not anytime soon.




Categories

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 22 other followers

Twitter Updates