“If you’re the devil, then it’s not me telling this story.” is the first line of this beautiful novel about an orphan boy growing up in a bordello in Excellent, Idaho.
If you’re the devil then it’s not me writing this review. I loved this book like I haven’t loved a book in many years. I loved Out-In-The-Shed, Dellwood Barker, Ida Richilieu and her blue dress, her red dress and her white dress. I loved Damn Dave and his Damn Dog, Not-Really-A-Mountain, the human-being sex story and I loved the concept of killdeer, “If you act like you’re looking for killdeer, you’ll never find killdeer. You have to be killdeer.”
I was in awe of Tom Spanbauer’s writing and the way his name translated itself in my head to “bridgebuilder” every time I looked at the cover. It’s not an academic translation but one of metaphor - knowledge becoming understanding.
The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon is body writing a human-being-story. Unfolding origami body, revealing heart truth. Pernicious.
Eeeeeeeeeeeee. This is my first read by T.C. Boyle and I had a great time although it took me two runs at it to get the whole thing down. I went into the bookstore with T.C. Boyle on my mind, having just listened to a podcast at NPR in which he talked about his newest book, The Women. It is a fictional account of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the women in his life. A friend of mine recommended Water Music, the foreign language section of Wittwer had it, I bought it.
What struck me the most about the story was that the characters never came to rest. Four hundred thirty-seven pages and they were running flat out in every direction – either away from the consequences of their actions or directly towards the logical thing to do, even though it was obvious they had no chance to escape the aforementioned serious consequences. The story moves at a break-neck pace, Ned Rise, Mungo Park, and especially poor Johnson pay for every quiet moment with a chapter full of trouble.
The old man, nestled beneath his bush, sleeps on. Deathly still. His mouth hangs open, the pink bud of his gums and palate an hors d’oevre for the huge green flies that hover round the putrefactive chicken. A column of ants has been using his foot as a highway, mosquitoes tatoo his cheeks and eyelids. Looking down at him so frail and motionless his bones in stark relief against the yellow muck, a terrible realization comes over the explorer. Old Eboe, last of the Jarrans, is dead.
Ah, but is he really dead, and what of that putrefactive chicken? What sort of a person comes up with this storyline? I jumped and squirmed. The language is not colorful, it is disgusting, stinky and delightful. Any author who makes a bushpig say: “snark snark” has a firm place on my Authors-To-Read-More-Of list.
From the back of the book:
The year is 1795: George III is dabbing the walls of Windsor Castle with spittle, Goya is deaf, De Quincey is a depraved prepubescent and young Ludwig van Beethoven is wowing them in Vienna with his second piano concerto. In London, Ned Rise, thief and whoremaster, is drinking Strip-Me-Naked with Nan Punt and Sally Sebum at the Pig and Pox Tavern in Maiden Lane. And, far from his native Edinburgh, the explorer Mungo Park is stranded in the Sahara, a prisoner of the Moors of Ludamar.
Water Music is the rambunctious account of two men’s wild adventures through the gutters of London and the Scottish Highlands to their unlikely meeting in darkest Africa, as they search for the source of the Niger, a river no European has ever laid eyes upon.
Dear Members of that Blow-Me-Away-Professional American Soccer Team,
You are the greatest!! I have never been so proud of the performance of an American Soccer Team as I am of you guys tonight. I know you’re disappointed, but you played an awesome tournament!!!
Congratulations on your incredibly cool suaveness, and on your silver medal. I know it’s hard to imagine tonight, but you wait and see: The future will be pointing out the élan with which you paved the way…
Ok, all you people who aren’t out there yet -
having committed myself here on the eve of the very last minute. This morning a mammoth book arrived in the post. The delivery man, a wimpy looking guy with skinny shoulders was ridiculously pleased to see me in the lobby. After carrying Infinite Jest upstairs, I understand his smile.
I’m sure buying it was the right decision - it’s definitely cheaper than a fitness studio.
My first try received a Life Torpedo about 9:00 in the morning when I remembered that we were supposed to be in the city with friends the better part of the day. This is why people keep calendars I know, and I did spend a lot of time on that Saturday thinking about writing, but that is not exactly a substantial break-away from my day-to-day. I think about writing a lot.
I had intended to block out eight hours for enjoying the meditative effects of actually staring at my blank screen, tapping my fingers on the keyboard, staring out the window and wrestling with the question: Is acceptance of the wall the way through the wall?
Still clueless, but this time having cleared it with
I’m giving it another try tomorrow. I know it’s short notice, but join me if you like. I’ll be focused on writing - something - anything between 10:00 am - 6:00 pm on Sunday, June 7, 2009.
I’m in for Saturday the 16th of May, especially for a book review or two. Since starting my hundred books, I’ve been reading, reading - but not much writing, writing. My “Review Me” pile is getting out of hand.
After I finished reading
The Book Thief
by the Australian novelist Markus Zusak in the bathtub one cold winter afternoon, I lay there and absorbed the depth of his story as the water got colder and colder. My peepers were a’leakin and I was in awe of the perfection of the whole book.
I Am The Messenger
Getting The Girl
from Amazon post haste. I loved
Getting The Girl
and sent it as a gift to my friend Zavier whom I thought might love it too. I was loathe to start
I Am The Messenger
after I read the first twenty-three pages aloud to my husband one night after dinner for the same reason I own but have not read
You Shall Know Our Velocity
by Dave Eggers. It takes years for an author to lovingly craft a book length story, and mere hours for me to devour it. I try to extend my pleasure with anticipation.
Sitting at my kitchen table with a glass of wine, I wandered along with Ed Kennedy, an underage taxi driver and his argumentative friend Marv as they get drawn into a hilariously snarky quarrel about the use and abuse of Marv’s ancient blue Falcon. The car in question is illegally parked outside the same bank where Ed and Marv, and Ed’s best friend (with whom he is hopelessly in love) Audrey are lying face down on the floor. The robber is pretty small time: “useless” is, I believe the word that Ed uses in the first sentence, and that turns out to be his doom.
Ed Kennedy, no matter what he thinks of himself, is orders of magnitude more useful than than this bank robber. The author spends the rest of this charming book proving that to both the reader and to Ed himself.
Some days later, an envelope containing three addresses written on the back of a playing card is delivered. No instructions. Just three addresses and the Ace of Diamonds. What would you do if this happened to you? Right-oh, that’s what Ed did too. He didn’t sleep at all that night, and after a lot of thinking about it no one he knew seemed a likely suspect. In the morning he got up and went out on foot with The Doorman and a street map to find the addresses on the card.
Favorite Character: The Doorman
What’s not to love about a bleary-eyed, coffee drinking, ice cream begging, hound dog well and comfortably settled into his retirement? They have a special charm that you can smell a mile away, and if you have ever lived with such a creature yourself, you will love The Doorman too.
I’ll leave the rest of the copies on the shelf at your local book seller just in case you want one too. Suffice it to say that by the end of the story, Ed is carrying four aces and plenty to think about.
I’ll give you ten bucks for the dog and the card.
I loved the pure Ed-ness of this sentence. He is a scrappy problem-solver and he is stubborn. Two admirable qualities in a man.
Favorite Assignment: The Barefoot Girl
This is only the second of Ed’s twelve assignments, but it is the one where I began to see the outlines of The Real Ed. The one even he doesn’t know exists.
As for the ending? At first, I found it satisfying if a bit fuzzy. After I thought about it awhile though, I began to see Ed Kennedy and his assignments as forerunner. I thought it was the perfect ending for the book an author might write, before he settles in to write a story as full of grace as
The Book Thief.
There, I imagine Ed Kennedy was working on his thirteenth assignment; encouraging Markus Zusak from behind the scenes.
All in all - two thumbs up, five stars and I’ll read it again someday.
I’ve finally figured out what is so depressing and exhausting about reading blogs. I never learn anything new. I do, very often, read good stuff that I already know. It irritates and bores me that I knew most of it fifteen years ago too when the internet was a baby, and having partaken of it’s temptations to the fullest, I was busy learning to live outside of my culture, to conduct my life in a language I had never heard before.
I didn’t have the energy to speak up in a public forum then and now I am willing, but find a million someones have stolen my tongue. The revelation: I lived through the revolution. Now what?