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Boy and Girl

A few weeks ago, I read two novels by new authors, both recommended by Patricia Storms at Booklust. I liked one and couldn't make up my mind about the other. But they belong together, I think, in being unconventional, non-novelistic works of fiction that use coming-of-age stories to suggest problems with American society. These problems are not positive social ills (such as racism or commercial fraudulence), but rather lacks, shortfalls. The world hasn't provided either book's principal character with enough of some essential ingredient. They don't complain; these aren't books about resentment and entitlement. That only makes their plights the more affecting.

Home Land, by Sam Lipsyte (Picador, 2004), is ostensibly a series of "updates" submitted to a high school alumni newsletter. The writer, Lewis Miner, has good reason to doubt that his submissions will be published, but he keeps writing them even when that doubt turns into certainty. There is something pathetic about this maneuver. But then Lewis is pathetic. He appears to have no attractions beyond a sarcastic intelligence that while funny to read would be insupportable in person. He is personally unprepossessing. The writing projects an unpleasant physical presence, a scuzziness that comes right through the page - unfortunately. Lewis has embraced loserdom. This is not to be confused with accepting a humble life or a less than stellar career. Embracing loserdom means taking great pains to avoid looking healthy or successful.

Continue reading about Home Land and Stop That Girl at Portico.


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It's always a wonderful feeling when I recommend a book to a friend and they come back to me gushing about how much they loved it. That doesn't happen often enough!

I'm sorry you didn't fully enjoy Home Land, but you're not the first one to express those specific concerns about the book. I have a definite immature side, so perhaps that's why it appealed to me! With Stop That Girl, even though I would have appreciated a bit more information about Ann's life as an adult, part of me really felt satisfied with the lack of detail near the end of the book. I can't wait to read Elizabeth McKenzie's next work of fiction.

Hmmm.... I must find a book that you thoroughly enjoy. It's my new mission. If you haven't read Robertson Davies' 'The Rebel Angels', then please do. I think you will enjoy that one for sure.

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