Emily's Reviews > Flatscreen

Flatscreen by Adam  Wilson
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May 17, 12

Read in May, 2012

If an episode of "Community" and one of those Hold Steady songs about college townies had a novelized lovechild, it would probably end up looking something like Flatscreen. It's aggressively self-aware, and replete with pop culture references, alternate universe endings, and bizarre characters. It's also incredibly dirty and druggy.

To date, I had only read glowing reviews, which I think overhyped the novel a bit. Flatscreen has its moments of humor, but it's never laugh-out-loud funny. The secondary characters are believable, but not especially complex. Several chapters read like those stories that stoners tell: "One time I was so high..." that aren't funny to anyone but the person telling it.

There's still a lot to love here. Eli, the slacker misfit protagonist who spends more time with trashy TV than actual human beings, makes for a great narrator. His struggle to connect with friends, family, and women are surprisingly sympathetic. His endless pop culture analysis is entertaining and brilliant. The most impressive part of Flatscreen, in my opinion, is that it lets Eli grow a bit, not melodramatically, but believably, slowly, in a humanizing way.

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