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Ostrich Paperback – 27 Aug 2013
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"Irresistible! Ostrich is loaded with wit, charm, and wisdom. Alex is one of the sweetest and most inspiring narrators I've ever encountered. I dare you not to laugh, cry, and fall utterly in love."--Maria Semple, New York Times bestselling author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
"A coming-of-age story of some brilliance . . . I laughed heartily, sobbed unexpectedly, and significantly improved my grammar."--Nathan Filer, author of the Costa Book Award winner The Shock of the Fall
About the Author
Matt Greene was born in Watford, England, in 1985 and studied English at the University of Sussex, where he edited The Badger newspaper. He is the co-author of four plays, including the Edinburgh Fringe sellout farce The Straight Man, and his debut feature film Oliver and Becky Would Like to Meet is currently in development with Big Talk Productions and StudioCanal. This is his first book.
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I'm not going to provide a summary of the plot, partly because other reviewers have done this already and partly because in Ostrich the most important things are always the things that are left unsaid, but I will say that having read the book a second time there is not a paragraph out of place. This isn't just a book you HAVE TO READ, it's one you have to re-read, which I did with my jaw on the floor. On my first reading I thought Ostrich was the funniest, saddest, sweetest, most authentic portrait of adolescence I'd ever encountered. On my second reading I realise its also the most cleverly constructed novel I've read in many, many years. Details that I initially thought were only in the book for the sake of authenticity (and hilarity) on re-examination turn out to be so, so relevant all along, which in retrospect only makes the ending more beautiful... and more inevitable.
About the ending. I don't want to talk about it too much at the risk of spoiling it for anyone but all I will say is you haven't guessed it even when you think you've guessed it. That and it WILL BREAK YOUR HEART in the very best possible way.
Ostrich is the only book I've ever read that manages to combine quantum physics, Tricolore French, divorce, fate, brain surgery and the funniest (and most moving) analysis of internet pornography that you will ever read. It's not just the best book of read this year, it's one of the best books I've read in my life. It's a book I know I'll revisit and one that I'll give to my kids when they're old enough to appreciate it. It's completely unlike anything else (comparisons to The Curious Incident To The Dog In The Nighttime are understandable but woefully inadequate) and it will stay with me for a very, very long time. (And it will have me writing in brackets for even longer!)
A child with epilepsy and a brain tumour is neither an obvious nor easy subject for any book. To have created a début novel of this quality (with as many comedic high notes and to have avoided the pitfalls of sentimentality) is a high achievement. I am looking forward to his next book.
I really enjoyed the book, and raced through it very quickly (in a couple of days). When I finished, I was confused as to what had happened, but leafing back a few pages, it was clear just paying a bit better attention in the final chapters would have solved that!
The comparisons to Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime are understandable, but largely superficial. This is a very different book. Overall, very enjoyable, very well written and thought out.