christa's Reviews > The Pilo Family Circus

The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott
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Apr 05, 09

Read in April, 2009

If I learned anything from "The Pilo Family Circus" by Will Elliott, it is that you cannot trust the Internet to tell you if a book is good. According to my research, this will be the first negative review of a book that won all sorts of weird Australian awards for fiction, and earned a blurb, through no fault of the author -- I understand -- likening this novel to the works of David Lynch and Chuck Palahniuk.

I'm here to tell blurbologists that just because a writer smears feces on a wall doesn't make him anything like Chuck Palahniuk.

In fact, this is exactly the sort of book that shouldn't be reviewed by anyone. It's not worth it. It is the equivalent of a stack of trade paper copies with the title scrawled in lipstick, featuring a high heeled shoe as the main art on the cover. There is nothing satisfying about this story: it is disjointed, poorly written, the plot fails and the writer relies on some elementary school style transitions ("Unbeknownst to him, these were the last eight hours of peace he would have for quite some time"). Not to mention the inexplicable perspective changes, and lack of distinguishable voice.

In fact, the only reason I didn't stop reading after 40 pages was because I was eager to find out exactly how bad this book could be. Answer: Pretty awful. Every time I set it down, I forgot what was going on when I picked it up.

It's about Jamie, a dude who is basically living in frat boy-style squalor, sharing a crumbling home with some nonfriends. In the middle of the night, he has an interaction with some clowns, which eventually leads to him a role in this otherworldly circus filled with freaks and carnies and a man with a fish face. He is stuck there, after he is shown that the alternative -- his old life -- will never amount to anything. Meanwhile, his body is splitting time: sometimes he is Jamie, sometimes he is JJ, a clown prone to havoc. Blah blah chaos.

I have to admit that I feel a little bad dissing on this book so seriously. Obviously these are words made by someone who had the fortitude to get them into print with a pretty awesome cover and a foreward written by Katherine Dunn, a natural pick considering the circus premise. For that, Elliott gets a kudos. You did it, man. Unfortunately, I neither laughed, nor was I frightened throughout the course of the book. I couldn't distinguish characters from each other and a lot of the time I barely understood what was happening.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Bcrzy76 I just wanted to say that it was nice of you to say you " felt bad" about your review. However , I would also like to know why you, who refer to the main character as " a dude" felt like you had the necessary qualifications to critique his writing quality Its one thing to give your opinion that you did not like it and you did not understand it, it is quite another matter for you to appoint yourself judge , jury, and executioner for this amazing and talented writer and this book that many many people appreciated and saw it was about much more than you did. My review of your review is that just because you dont understand someone elses art doesnt mean you have the right to jump online and trash it like your an expert. I'm sorry for you that to you Jamie and his internal struggle with taking the easy evil way he suffered greatly instead and chose to fight, was just " some dude" and I hope that if you were to look at the mona lisa and not like her hair you would not deem yourself so important that you would just say you dont like her hair and not trash the skill and talent of one of the worlds most famous painters. I say this to show you the difference between giving an opinion and appoint yourself judge for us all.


message 2: by Caris (new) - added it

Caris While it is very kind of you to come to the defense of (what is in all likelihood) a friend, your comment is pretty off base. Does Christa have the qualifications to judge writing quality? Yes, she does. So do I. So do you. That's kind of what we do here. I realize that you made this comment a couple of months ago and it was probably in the heat of angry passion, but it struck me as being very uncool. In all reality, this is a very fair negative review.


Hester can you read?


christa Weird.


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