I found the novel to be for the most part funny, charming, and Franzenesque, but the plot seemed to run out of steam toward the end. Despite that, I'l...moreI found the novel to be for the most part funny, charming, and Franzenesque, but the plot seemed to run out of steam toward the end. Despite that, I'll certainly read Wilson's next novel.(less)
This is the kind of book that makes you laugh until your eyes fill with tears. Then you stop reading for a minute to try and get yourself under contro...moreThis is the kind of book that makes you laugh until your eyes fill with tears. Then you stop reading for a minute to try and get yourself under control while your husband ask if you're okay, but you start laugh-crying again and can't answer. Finally, you continue reading, but after two paragraphs, you go back to reread that sentence and completely lose it.
It took me a few chapters to stop questioning whether she was just exaggerating; the photographic evidence helped to dispel my skepticism. And her painfully funny descriptions of social anxiety were raw, honest, and unfortunately, pretty familiar. I hope Lawson continues to write and feels validated by an appreciative audience, because she comes across as a genuinely nice, unquestionably talented individual,(less)
This sorry excuse for a memoir should be given a wide berth not only because the author is a vile misogynist but also because it’s horribly written. T...moreThis sorry excuse for a memoir should be given a wide berth not only because the author is a vile misogynist but also because it’s horribly written. The semi-highbrow assertion that he wants to make an artistic, higher-quality sort of porn is belied by the fact that his greatest accomplishment is shooting racist, abusive films for a sleazy website.
The purported "love story," a relationship with someone he refers to as ”White Liz,” ends when, much to his surprise, she throws him out after he hits her during sex. We’re supposed to feel sorry for him, I think, as a poor misunderstood kinkster -- when actually, he’s just a low-life creep.
The book ends with his retreat to a hippie Thai resort that promises spiritual and physical cleansing via daily high colonics. If enduring enemas and a resulting plague of boils is meant to symbolize some sort of journey or emotional growth, then I suppose he has matured. For me it felt both ham-handed and empty -- much like the chapters that had preceded it.
As someone who doesn’t have a problem with smut or its manufacturing, I found the book to be amateurishly constructed, with a prose style that should make his alma mater reconsider having granted him a degree. (The author's favorite words -- usually employed to describe women or their body parts -- appear to be ”tiny” [46 uses in 270-odd pages] and ”little” [152 uses]). I only wish I could give it less than one star. Avoid at all costs.(less)
Dear Self: Next time you want to read something frothy, get it out of the library. It won't help you enjoy it any more, but you'll at least avoid buye...moreDear Self: Next time you want to read something frothy, get it out of the library. It won't help you enjoy it any more, but you'll at least avoid buyer's remorse.(less)
This was what I’m pretty sure was my second attempt at reading this novel, but by no means was it any more pleasant. I can safely say that the only re...moreThis was what I’m pretty sure was my second attempt at reading this novel, but by no means was it any more pleasant. I can safely say that the only reason I finished it this time was simply out of spite.
The book got lots of ink when it was first published nine years ago due to its sensational topic of school shootings told from the point of view of Eva, the sociopathic adolescent’s mother, in the form of letters to her husband. While I initially tried to give her the benefit of the doubt as an unreliable narrator, her extreme heavy-handedness and one-dimensional portrayal of everyone around her quickly grew tiresome.
Eva's titular spawn is described as evil incarnate from the moment he was born. Apathetic, antisocial, and immune to punishment, he refuses to be toilet-trained until he's six, intentionally destroys anything that means anything to his mother, and puts on a "Golly gee whillikers, Dad!" show whenever his father is around. Incidents in which he hurts other children (including a horrific scene with his younger sister) spark fear and frustration in Eva, but because Franklin angrily accuses her of demonizing their child, nothing is ever done -- or even attempted -- to address or change his behavior.
Eva and Franklin's relationship rings similarly false as she vacillates between ardent, undying passion and distance, mistrust, and antipathy. She tries to frame it as an opposites-attract scenario, whereby her liberal, independent, worldly self is smitten with a boy-howdy, reactionary, red-blooded 'merican man, but her sentiments ring false. When Franklin buys an expensive and modern open-plan house in the 'burbs without first consulting her, she pretends to find it charming while silently and melodramatically bemoaning her fate: her description of the house as "a horror show" that makes her want to "slit [her] wrists" sounds more like a plea for a pity party than an honest account by a three-dimensional human being.
Given the story line, the reader knows that all events Eva describes are leading up to his murder spree -- but there isn't a single plot point along the way that isn't clumsily telegraphed beforehand. (Do you think giving a teenager with violent tendencies a crossbow for his birthday is going to end well?) Eva's histrionics, Kevin's almost supernatural malevolence, and Franklin's cluelessness are unchanging and grow increasingly irritating, as do the leaden descriptions of the news of the day and the prevalence of school violence. A more complex narrator who refuses to accept any blame for her own parenting failures (and hey, who might have even considered taking the kid to a psychiatrist at some point) would have been a more believable and less histrionic persona to tell this story.(less)