Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kercheval, Jesse Lee (My Life as a Silent Movie)

In this completely enjoyable, absolutely beyond-question over-the-top piece of fiction, our protagonist loses both her husband and child in the first few pages (see, I'm not giving anything away there). It wasn't the best choice to start reading this month but it turned into something so crazy that I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Our author is a creative writing teacher at UWisconsin and she's had a surprising batch of stuff published (including a memoir about growing up around Cape Canaveral in the 60s that I may just pick up). I'm certain she's giving her students sound advice about writing because she knows her craft. She takes an actual personal story - she herself grew up in France and Florida - and makes it the background to this... ride. I can't describe it any other way.

How our protagonist acts throughout this book can easily be marked down to being distraught over the loss of her husband and daughter. It can also be marked down to an author saying to herself "well, I have this opportunity to write plot points willy-nilly simply because my protagonist is distraught." I don't think good novels work that way. Of course, bad novels work this way too - like "The Marriage Plot," for instance - and this particular novel isn't really bad. Just bizarro. With aspects of real-life thrown in for good measure.

Look, when you get to Russia, you'll understand what I mean.

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