Kathrina's Reviews > Spooner

Spooner by Pete Dexter
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Nov 18, 2009

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bookshelves: featuring-severed-appendages, american-fiction
Read in November, 2009

I felt super-fortunate when I found the ARC to this title at a consignment shop, only weeks after the hardcover was released. This book was getting a lot of media hype, and Dexter was 3 years overdue on his contract in getting this one out, so I was really looking forward to it. In the ARC he includes a letter to the reader, apologizing that this may be the roughest ARC ever distributed, and he's not exaggerating. There are so many typos, repeated phrases, run-on sentences and other grammar horrors in this draft that some paragraphs require repeated readings just to get the gist. But I must admit, the gist is lovely, and worth the re-reads.
Dexter's at his best in creating real characters in quiet, small moments. His plot construction is erratic, and most times he'll give you the effect of an action long before the set-up and the action itself. It makes the reader work to keep up (especially when tripping over funky sentence structure and multiple typos), but his characters are so well-drawn, that these gaffes are quickly forgiven.

I like Dexter, but he's definitely a man's writer. His women are all flawed, pictured as either long-suffering, nagging, and needy, or befuddled, crazed-at-the-wheel torment-makers. The only female portrayed with any dignity is Margaret, but she's still poked at for being too smart -- always playing the game so well, but without enough creativity to ever break the rules. Dexter obviously values an ability to break the rules, as that pretty much defines who Spooner is.
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