Sunday, February 13, 2011

# 9 - The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland

It seemed pretty simple at first. Middle aged guy working a dead end job at Staples (Roger) befriends co-worker, a gothy young adult with no direction (Bethany). So they're both fucked up, Roger, an alcoholic going through divorce and Bethany, just not knowing what to do with herself and her life.

But their friendship is told through letters and journal entries, first between Roger and Bethany, then later on, expanding to include Bethany's mom, Roger's ex wife and their co-workers. Also included are excerpts of a novel that Roger is working on. So there's that element of a novel within a novel, WITHIN a novel, since Roger's novel includes an excerpt of a novel of one of the characters. Confused now?

So the letters and the novel provide insight and some historical background to the characters. The novels within the novel uses aspects and details of the Roger's "real" life. The novel follows the characters as they grow, or have they really grown? What i remember most (since this review is really really late) is that somewhere in the book, someone says that something happens to you, and you think it's going to change you. But it really doesn't. You're still the same person you are before that event. This book could make a case for that particular way of thinking, but I think the characters do change, albeit not through some huge event, but slowly, as like growing up.

This book just follows some people, trying to cope and deal with the modern word. Maybe trying to better themselves a little bit, or at least trying to understand themselves.

It was an entertaining read and I was invested in the characters, even though I usually get irritated at mopey characters, and characters who can't just get over it. Well, these people I actually liked and i wanted them to feel better. The only thing that puzzles me about the novel was the last entry. I thought it was a bit Inception-y, or maybe I'm just dumb. I mean, was it all a novel within a novel, within a novel, within a novel???!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

#8 - The Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle

I keep reading the T.C. Boyle writes biting satire but the two books by him that I've read so far (this and Drop City) certainly don't give that impression. Or maybe I just don't get it. Well, I actually enjoyed Drop City very much bit didn't really find it bitingly satirical. I thought it was an earnest and realistic look at all that hippie goodness. But that's another book, one that isn't part of the Cannonball.

I've finished this quite a while ago but only got to writing the review now. Anyway, it's about this young student who got involved with Alfred Kinsey and sex research. AND sex research, if you know what I mean ;) (that's a winkey smile, people!) The books follows John, a sort of bland corn-fed American as he slowly becomes immersed in Kinsey's research and in Kinsey himself. There's a lot of sex between everybody, male and female. The inner circle, was after all, the vanguard of sexual liberation. Sex was merely physical, biological and should be indulged in whenever one felt the urge. But at the same time, the members of the inner circle of researchers had to appear respectable in order to give an appearance of professionalism and to look all scienc-y. The book narrates how this sort of lifestyle affected John's marriage with a girl that he truly truly loved.

I found the book to be a quick read, however, I cannot get over how creepy the Kinsey character was. He was very sexual harassy and controlling of every facet of John's life. Stuff he should have butt out of. That was the actually John's main dilemma, in that Kinsey was his idol, and he would do practically anything that Kinsey asked, sexual or otherwise, while his wife just wanted Kinsey to mind his own goddamn business.

That's bout it.