Top positive review
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A moving insight into a troubled man's life.
on 6 June 2014
Although there are elements of comedy in this thoroughly excellent novel, it would be wrong to read this for a laugh. I think that the 'one star reviewers' have simply misunderstood this.
I see the main character, Jay Golden as suffering from an existential crisis. He has been through the grief of losing his mother to cancer and he just cannot relate to the world of work, with all its fake values and demands. It's all so pointless to him. All he wants is to be a creative writer, not someone stuck behind a desk or selling lawnmowers. He is so alienated from the world that he enjoys winding up famous people and getting them to swear at him. In this he demonstrates how little he regards fame and status and himself.
Jay is trapped in his grief and inertia but he gradually realizes that he loves his girlfriend and wants to run away from reality with her into a great and exciting adventure. But Jay doesn't 'fit in' with society, his girlfriend's or his father's expectations. His feeling of alienation begins to translate itself into physical symptoms.
Some of the bad reviews complain that nothing happens and that the story is boring. I see that as precisely the point. It shows how boring and unfulfilling life can be when you want to follow your dream and society is continually trying to drag you into dull conformity. The story focuses on the day to day routine and the petty arguments and demands made upon us.
Some of the bad reviews say that the character isn't likeable. But beneath his exterior apathy and his childish pranks, we see how much Jay loved his mother and how he is lost without her. He also loves his younger brother and his father (when he stops nagging him.)
The pain and tragedy of his mother's death is portrayed so masterfully. This is no fiction. I think it has to come from the author's own experience. I relate to what Jay does. I too kept things that belonged to my mother. I too sniffed them to conjure up her memory and presence, knowing that this too will fade away in a short time. Jay's mother is so well painted, she was just real to me.
A profoundly moving and genuine glance at grief, love, everyday life and dreams that don't come true. Don't be put off by the few bad reviews here.