Are some of these reviews and ratings serious? If you’re looking for a safe, middlebrow, humorless workshop novel where the threads are tied in a neat...moreAre some of these reviews and ratings serious? If you’re looking for a safe, middlebrow, humorless workshop novel where the threads are tied in a neat bow, “Carolina Moon” isn’t for you. Now, if you’re looking for raw, purposefully messy and brilliant tragicomedy, "Carolina Moon" is up your alley.
McCorkle, as another reviewer wrote, “can do no wrong.” For whatever reason, there’s a dearth of tragicomic realism in contemporary American fiction; it’s amazing how humorless American writers have become over the last two decades, unless they’re writing postmodern irony that merely parodies itself. McCorkle consistently fills the tragicomic void in my contemporary fiction reading life. “Carolina Moon” is real deal, old school tragicomedy, a dash of Flannery with a heaping dose of Eudora, her biggest influence (she's said so in interviews). Oh, and her prose is killer. (less)
A wonderful, multi-voiced novel that's socially engaged without becoming didactic. Humor, spunk, and pathos are all here and Nussbaum's depiction of i...moreA wonderful, multi-voiced novel that's socially engaged without becoming didactic. Humor, spunk, and pathos are all here and Nussbaum's depiction of institutional culture rings true for this reader who spent two years of his childhood in a state mental hospital. At several points I stopped reading and said, "yes, she got it!" Like here (see quote below), when writing from the POV of Michelle Volkmann, an unlikeable "recruiter" for Whitney-Palm. Whitney-Palm purchases the contracts of state-run facilities and operates those facilities on the cheap to turn a profit. Michelle visits shelters and recruits potential patients to fill beds at Whitney-Palm facilities; she also checks up on WP facilities periodically to (supposedly) make sure they're compliant. However, her boss, Tim, is constantly worried about "overhead," and most of her visits involve seeking ways to cut costs. You get the drift:
"There's a couch with orange-and-blue plastic seat cushions and the TV is on even though no one is in there. One thing about these kinds of places is the TV is always on" (217).
So true--and especially interesting to read from the POV of Michelle, who, like Tim, views the kids and hospital as commodities. She doesn't understand the cultural complexity of the day room (where TVs play endlessly) as a meeting place, a place of deep humanity and camaraderie, where the din of Price is Right comingles with the voices of patients and staff. And, even when the day room is empty--as is the case here--the TV plays on and the "noise" travels the halls and under patients' doors. The noise is comforting, a reminder of a world beyond sterile walls and barbwire fences.
Now, I have to agree with another reviewer that Nussbaum errs when referring to Puerto Ricans as "immigrants." Puerto Ricans are not immigrants because of the 1917 Jones-Shafroth Act. If you recall, when Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayer to the Supreme Court, several media outlets claimed she was the daughter of immigrants, which caused a stir. Ricky, who is Puerto Rican, refers to his parents as immigrants. How did Nussbaum's editor miss this? Ricky is too smart and aware of his cultural heritage, so I don't buy his naivete as first-person unreliability.
That said, "Good Kings Bad Kings" is a necessary, honest and heartbreaking read about a population society would rather ignore. (less)