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For a very long time, The Serialist was the ultimate "bridesmaid" book for me -- always next in line to be read, only to be left at the altar when the time came to make a selection.
Happily, when I finally made the commitment to this novel, I found something I really loved.
This book is terrific on a host of different levels:
-- Reader. Bronson Pinchot is great, great, great. It's one of those rare books where character development is spectacularly advanced by the reader's talent. In my mind's eye, I could visualize even the facial expressions and body language of the characters.
-- Intelligence. This is a smart book. It begins in a manic manner, bouncing off the walls like Robin Williams in his "Mork and Mindy" days. I initially thought that this would be similar to Josh Bazell's "Wild Thing," and, I suppose, in some ways it is. Only better.
Actually, once "The Serialist" settles down, a better comparison is probably Steve Hamilton's "The Lock Artist," not so much for its style (although both are told in the first person) as for its originality. The Serialist works because there is really nothing else like it.
-- Complexity. The book feels like a set of Russian matryoshka dolls, with one story line nesting inside another, which surrounds another. Each is unique, but each fits perfectly around or inside the others.
-- Pushing boundaries. There are a number of uncomfortable spots in this book that will make you squirm. Some authors approach challenging material by conveying momentum toward a very uncomfortable spot, then veering away at the last moment -- the goal being to leave the reader relieved that we didn't go where it looked like we might go.
Other writers tromp into uncomfortable areas like a "Friday the 13th" movie, delighting in what is awful as an end unto itself.
Gordon takes a third approach, edging up to the line, pausing for dramatic effect, then crossing it briefly before heading in a different direction. The effect is actually quite powerful. He made me very, very uncomfortable in a few spots. Yet, each such moment served an important purpose.
Which brings me to the best part ...
-- This is a book about writing a book. I'm not an English teacher, but this book is an English teacher's dream. The Serialist speaks of the power of words and then demonstrates the power of words. How cool is that?!?
The Serialist isn't literature, but it's not pulp fiction either. It's simply a great read. And maybe my favorite book of the year. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I love Bronson Pinchot as the narrator. Not a book for those who like cozy mysteries but if you like quirkiness with your macabre story lines then this is for you.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful