Emory's Reviews > Broken Piano for President

Broken Piano for President by Patrick Wensink
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Mar 19, 12

bookshelves: bizarro-fiction
Read from September 12 to 21, 2011

Recently, “Publishers Weekly” reviewed Patrick Wensink's “Broken Piano for President.” To say that they panned it is an understatement. To say that they couldn't be bothered to actually review it is another. Here's the link: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1.... I'd like to take this space to answer their limited criticism with a review of my own.

First, the linked review is not a review. It is a plot summary with a couple of off-hand comments tacked on the end. The summary is accurate, but I expect better writing from a periodical that calls itself “Publisher's Weekly.” While I think their summary gives too much away, I'll not bother with my own here.

“Wensink's convoluted and unpolished story requires a veritable suspension bridge of disbelief.” Yes, the plot is convoluted. There are several threads going on, but Wensink handles them all with grace. In my opinion, “Broken Piano for President” is no worse on subplots than Frank Herbert's classic “Dune” series or Neal Stephenson's “The Diamond Age.” Each thread strengthens the yarn, and pulls the reader into the insane world of Deshler Dean. Oh, and it's a work of FICTION, suspension of disbelief comes with the territory.

“...instead of being absorbed into what Deshler's publisher calls 'bizarro fiction,' the effect is more like waking up with a terrible hangover or trying to recall a bad dream.” Okay, the first problem is that whoever this supposed “publishing expert” is has confused the main character of the book with the author. Second, by using the “hangover” simile, they clearly illustrate their ignorance. The whole book is about a guy in a perpetual blackout-drunk/hangover cycle! It's what makes the narrative interesting and engaging! The reader finds out things as the character does. The Sam Elliot/Big Lebowski-style narrator that crops up every so often adds humor and allows for quick exposition of the story's world.

In short: if you want Oprah's Book Selection of the week, go read that. I hope you enjoy it. If you want to be challenged and drawn into a crazy but eerily believable and entertaining world, buy “Broken Piano for President.” It is money far better spent.
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