I've never actually read any of his books, because they're ridiculously long and the summaries make them seem like they're about nothing. So I shouldn't lend any credence to this review. Thing is, normally a review panning a book makes me want to read the book, because I think critics are stupid and mostly wrong. This one seems different.

    This plotline was old before Homer went blind.


lil:

I actually read The Commitments, flags, you should too. It was a good read. Later, I read Franzen's novel about fracking, and taking the tops off mountains, and marital breakdown (what isn't about marital breakdown?): Freedom -- yes, both books are impossibly long, but you sort of miss them when they're over. And the sentences... and the experience of living the lives of the protagonists - he does that well.

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This review casts aspersion on the notion of writing a book about a parent dying, saying

    The overwriting is meant to conceal the fact that this novel is a simple mix of three of the most hackneyed storylines in American fiction:

    The picaresque adventures of a feckless male academic, borrowed from DeLillo;

    The sentimental tale of the decay and death of one’s parents as in Dave Eggers’s “masterpiece”;

    The old, old plot device of the family Christmas reunion to bring the centrifugal parents and kids back together again against all odds

I've noticed this: Parents die. They die in real life, and they die in novels.

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Remember Microserfs? For all its high tech, startuptitude, in the end it's about parents dying.

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Remember Bright Lights Big City, Jay McInerney's first novel. For all its life in New York City survivitude, in the end it's about parents dying.

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Remember the Bible: well guess what? Parents die..

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Full disclosure: I couldn't read the whole review by Dolan. To say that a novel about parents dying is a hackneyed storyline is saying that Hamlet has a hackneyed storyline because the son is trying to deal with the death of his father.

Bosh.


posted by flagamuffin: 850 days ago