Maya's Reviews > A Cold Night for Alligators

A Cold Night for Alligators by Nick Crowe
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Mar 02, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: first-reads, canaduan, road-trip, north-america, mental-health, first-person, debut
Read in March, 2011

Won from GR First Reads program.

Full disclosure: this being a debut release, and by a Canadian author, I really wanted to like it. In the final analysis, the aspects I liked did outweigh the aspects that didn't appeal to me and I would give the second novel by this author a look.

Pro:
- Eye catching cover, intriguing title
- Gives a poignant sense of the 'survivor's guilt' the protagonist felt as a child observing the encroaching mental illness of his brother and being powerless to do anything to delay or stop the moment when things reach crisis level; where Wally Lamb's protagonist in a somewhat similar situation turned to longterm anger as a response ("I Know This Much is True"), this protagonist's response has been to feel emotionally adrift, unable to connect to work, a partner, his parents, and his realization that he will have to deal with it one way or another makes his road trip to Florida of interest to the reader. I liked his determination to break past the wall, and his dogged loyalty to the parents and brother he was unable to help past their grief.
- Thought the 'big disclosure' was going to go in a certain direction, and was surprised when it was something else
- Liked it that the ending wasn't of the Disney, saccharine type, and remained open-ended

Con:
- Seems like 'beer' is the most frequently used word. It is such a rare page without a mention (or six) that it comes as a shock when the protagonist buys a coffee late in the book.
- Repeated' jewelled' eyes, and seems every character character encountered is afflicted with dark circles under eyes
- There is a moment in the story when the protagonist, in his words, tries to see if rudeness will be enough to make a female character leave him alone. There were moments when I wondered if a similar technique was being applied to the reader, in terms of the amount of 'seediness' (as mentioned on cover blurb) is willing to put up with to get on with the story. There are countless instances of, let's say, hygiene & grooming challenge, with special interest in forms of bad breath. A reader could be forgiven for wondering if the author got kickbacks from the tourism bureau of some other southern American state for the excellent job of making Florida seem like a terrible place to go on vacation
- Didn't understand some of the logistics in the final big confrontation. For those who've read the book - could you please tell me how the second person in the boat came to be there at that strategic moment? Where did the bone come from, and why, again, at that strategic moment? How did the residents of the house know that Jasper and Donny were coming and that it was them?
- Didn't understand Jasper's, Aunt Val's, and police officer's so casually dismissing what the cousin did, nor the girlfriend's actions. Any insights from other Goodreaders?

Overall: story of touching issues, personal growth, with vivid (at times a little too much so) description
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Allison SO TRUE about the bad breath thing.


Maya Allison wrote: "SO TRUE about the bad breath thing."

I know, right?

Did you like it overall?

and did you understand better about some of the questions I had about the ending?


Jean-marcel hey. Cool review. i just read this book myself.
Ok, some spoilers here:

1. The second person got into the boat because, after Jasper and the police officer went to the touristy gator farm place, Rolly's son showed up, presumably with a caught alligator. They knew that the person with Jasper was a cop, and that they'd been asking about a guy about Jasper's age who was also a Canadian. Hoyt told Rolly; ROlly put two and two together, and they went out to the tents where the farm guy said that Jasper's brother lived and hauled him out of there and tossed him in the boat.

2. The bone. I am not sure how it got there. I assumed though that Coleman found it way back when, and had been keeping it with him all this time, as a sort of reminder. Kind of adds weight to the assertion that he'd been feeling terrible about what happened in the swamp (the murder of the police officer) and actually had a physical object with him on which to focus all of that rage/guilt/madness.

3. They didn't know Donny and Jasper were coming, however Coleman had already shown up in his beat up old car, and that's why they were already shooting by the time Jasper and Donny arrived.

4. I don't think we're supposed to feel too good about how easily Hoyt got let off, either. Mind you, this is only apparent; it's entirely possible that he would be charged as an accessory to an attempt of murder later on, but I think the implication was that justice down there was pretty lax generally, and that Manuel thought the situation was already bad enough with Rolly having been killed. Still, Val doesn't come out of all this too well, does she? She was strong enough to leave her former Canadian husband when he started drinking and hitting, but Rolly Lee was just too much for her, and she stood by him in spite of the things she already knew. Ah well, some people really are like that.


Maya That was really helpful. Thanks.

Jean-marcel wrote: "hey. Cool review. i just read this book myself.
Ok, some spoilers here:

1. The second person got into the boat because, after Jasper and the police officer went to the touristy gator farm place, R..."



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