Robert's Reviews > The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale
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's review
Jan 25, 2012

liked it

I was excited to read this, since blogger Mimi Smartypants, who reads an inhuman number of books, gave it four stars (a VERY rare rating for her), and while it certainly was very sharp and funny, with lots of amusing references to culture of both the highbrow and lowbrow varieties, in the end I didn't find it all that amazing. It felt sort of like a fascinating writing experiment carried too far. Sort of like those movies that get made out of Saturday Night Live sketch characters, which work as sketches but just don't hold up for an entire feature length film. This was a book with lots of enjoyable moments that just didn't add up to a whole, satisfying novel.

In part, the novel was an attempt at bildungsroman, but it just didn't capture the element of growth (whether real or ironic). What was being passed off as growth felt more like an excuse for the author to throw in some not particularly engaging social criticism and put it in the mouth of his protagonist near the end of the story.

There was also an element of the naif encountering human society, and thus giving us a fresh perspective on ourselves (a la Stranger in a Strange Land), and the book was fairly successful in that respect. It's a very hard premise to maintain, though, and I think that somewhat predictably, the attempt to maintain this premise was pretty uneven.

Finally, there's a strong aspect of an unreliable narrator, which is used to interject a certain surreality into the book, and I think this was interesting and mostly successful, but also sometimes used more as a joke, and sometimes used a more serious literary device, and this back and forth made it harder for me to stay interested.
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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve I'm usually a sucker for a Bildungsroman (Skippy Dies and Black Swan Green being recent favorites), but this one sounds missable. Thanks for the warning, Robert. It might have been tempting on the face of it. I guess what we both really want are Immerkomischundinteressantbildungsromans (the always funny and interesting kind).

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