MacK's Reviews > A Lion Among Men

A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire
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Sep 20, 10

bookshelves: contemporary, audio-books
Read in September, 2010

As my buddy Bill once wrote: "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them"

If you notice, Bill made no mention of those people who aren't great. The average, the mediocre, the unimpressive. You know why? Because those people aren't very interesting to write about. Such is the case with Brrr, the titular Lion Among Men. In listening to this book I simply could not drum up the enthusiasm to give a good gol' darn about the main character, his struggles, his (moderate) triumphs, his future prospects...he just seemed to be taking up space, I eventually realized: "I'm listening to this DESPITE not caring at all about anything that's happening!"

I kept listening because Maguire's conceit is deeply engaging (especially to fans of children's lit). It's fun to revisit your old friends from Oz and to see them as more complex, complete characters, the audio-book version also features the sonorous voice of John McDonough, which (though not great at distinguishing between scads of characters) does a fine job of conveying the magical as meaningful.

But Maguire's prose is rife with self-important dictates, irrelevant repetitions of tangential plots, and sexual euphemisms which somehow seem twice as obscene as any dirty word. And at the center of it all is a character more infuriating than interesting.

I think another buddy of mine (Senor Izzard) can sum up the character failings best of all: "Think of the cowardly characters you really root for: Fallstaff, Leopold Bloom (from Joyce's Ulysses), and Scooby Doo" It's a tough list to crack and Brrr doesn't do it. Though he seems like a good candidate, Maguire falls well short.
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