Monday, February 25, 2008

Worth Your Valuable Time



NOTE: MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS; CHECK THEM AT YOUR OWN PERIL

I'm sure I've mentioned this really irritating personality quirk of mine before, but... well... I'm going to bring it up again because it pertains to this post and this is my blog and you're not my real dad. And so on.

Anyway, so I've got this really irritating personality quirk and it's basically this: If you tell me about your favorite book/song/movie/TV show/piece of Roman-inspired architecture, and you tell me about how much you love it and how it's changed your life, etc., then I will immediately and irrationally hate it. Why? Don't know... I've always attributed it to me being a horrible snob who dislikes other people being happy because I'm incapable of feeling joy. There might be other factors as well, but I'm not sure. Being like this sucks, and it makes people not like me, but most of all it keeps me from reading/listening/watching/whatever-you-do-with-architectureing really wonderful things. I like wonderful things, after all, and having my own weirdness get in the way of my enjoyment of them is lame-o.

So, I bring this up because I finally got over myself long enough to read a book that Girlfriend loves and has been recommending to me for the entire two and a half years that I've known her: "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

NOTE: You probably guessed that from the picture up top. Whatever.

As is usually the case after I've been snotty about something, I ended up loving this book. Like, loving it. If it were a co-worker, I'd be fired for trying to give it a massage and softly whispering that it "smelled like sexy fruit."

I don't want to give away too much of the plot... it's better that you discover it on your own, like I did... but just know that it's about a shy, bookish kid entering his Freshman year in high school, and it fucking nails exactly what that epic lifestyle upheaval feels like. Everything is there... the making friends, the experimenting with illicit substances, the parties, etc. But that's not all there is to it... nope, it goes much, much deeper than that; there's so much more than meets the eye, it's practically a Autobot.

Seriously, kids, this book knocked ol' C-dog on his ass. And not just with the story; the prose is unfussy, unpretentious, and more cinematic than most actual films. It's just... fuck, man...

Okay, I'm going to stop before I oversell it. Talking too effusively is going to turn you off, and I don't want you to be turned off to this book. So just read it. But only do so if you like books that make you go, "Wow."

You won't be disappointed.

10 Comments:

Blogger The Dutchess of Kickball said...

Well I should say you should read the Fuck Up because I really love that book, but I don't want you to hate it. I'll have to check this one out.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

It's all good, I've *already* read The Fuck-Up! And, agreed, it was awesome as well. Yeah, if you liked that, you'll love this one too.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous chris w. said...

I'm normally with you all the way on things but I can't go this far. You've reached the threshold and I mustn't pass.

I hated this book with a passion and not just because someone told me it was their favorite book.

*Here Be Spoilers!*

I hated the style the author wrote it in. I understand he was aiming for a tone and voice that sounded like a young 14/15 year-old kid but I think he landed squarely in the realm of vapid, idiotic, and generally retarded. The kid sounds like he has a learning disability all the while effusing about how much he loves to read and write and how his teacher tells him he's so smart.

I hated how completely wimpy and ineffectual the main character was. He never did anything, everything was done to him. When his guy friend started kissing him, he just sat there not liking it but not doing anything. Inaction doesn't make interesting reading.

Most importantly, I hated how it used the tired cliche of "character is fucked up due to past molestation." I understand that sexual assault is a traumatic event and one that is never shaken off. But merely saying this kid is the way he is because of his aunt touching him is so simplistic to be idiotic.

*End Spoiler Transmission*

So yeah, C-dog. I love you and love your blog and everything else we generally agree on (except I don't have the intestinal fortitude to eat all that Chinatown stuff) but I just hated this book with a passion. Sorry.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Regarding your first point... I get how that could be irritating. Girlfriend actually warned me that it had a very distinct style and, while it didn't bother me, I can totally see how it wouldn't be someone else's cup o' tea. As for the narrative voice, I don't know, maybe it's because I knew/know kids like that, but it seemed perfectly tuned to how smart, articulate kids write. I don't want to publicly call out the person that I know who is like this, but because I know him, I found the voice entirely authentic.

Regarding your second and third points... It seems to me like you totally missed the point of the book because you were too focused on not liking the main character and/or the way it was written. Everything you said you didn't like about it... all of that was part of why I found it so utterly fascinating. Seriously, it's like we read two different books.

But whatever. Everyone's got their own opinions, I guess.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous chris w said...

I was by no means putting down you or Girlfriend or anyone who enjoys this book. If it came off like that, me so sorry.

We'll agree to disagree then, I suppose. It's amazing how much personal context can change an impact of a narrative. I just wasn't feeling it and felt like my third point was a cheat and too much pigeon-holing.

Now if I may be so bold as to venture a suggestion on your blog for a book to read, might I suggest The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. It's probably my favorite book of all time. I was daunted by its size and epic-ness but you settle into the characters and the world of WWII-era NYC and comic book characters around that time. It's truly an amazing book.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Now on this one, I'm totally with you. I read Kavalier & Clay a couple of years ago and absolutely fucking loved it. It's funny, I was actually thinking about it the other day, speficially about the part where he describes all of NYC's bridges in beautiful, eloquent terms.

I don't know why, but I loved that part.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous chris w said...

I can't stop thinking of the Empire State Building as an amazing apartment where blimps sometimes dock.

4:48 PM  
OpenID survivingmyself said...

dude i do the exact same thing, any book my girlfriend recommends i'm like, "Nope! Not gonna read it!"

what the hell is wrong with us?

5:15 PM  
Blogger Mr. Shain said...

i read this book my junior year in high school, when it came out. i loved it then, being i was 16. i would not love it now, being that i'm 26. but maybe your blog has a larger high school readership.

1:07 PM  
Blogger babe_no27 said...

It's a recommended school reading book now, according to Barnes and Noble. I was surprised.

4:45 AM  

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