I never would have read this book if it weren’t for Cannonball Bingo.
Also, I never would have had to read this book if it weren’t for Cannonball Bingo. (And my damn completionist streak, like when I try to finish every sidequest in a Zelda game.)
I had a different reading experience for every quarter of this book. The first quarter was spent like “eh, this isn’t really my thing, but I’ll give it to the 25% mark.” The second quarter was spent like “okay, if I get to the 50% mark then maybe I can stop there, write a review and still tick off the centre square?”. The third quarter was like “ugh, that’s cheating, I’ll push through”. And the fourth quarter was like “okay, well, I’ve got this far and there are two characters I don’t absolutely hate so I guess I’ll finish it.” (The two characters I didn’t absolutely hate were George and Claudette, and George was made less interesting by the ending.)
I would attempt to describe the plot, but I won’t because a) everyone else has already posted about it for Cannon Book Club, and b) there is no plot to speak of. At least, not a coherent one. I understand what Ferguson was trying to do, but I didn’t appreciate the plot being less comprehensible than an ADHD kid snorting pixie sticks. The plot jumps around, not only between the three main storylines (George, Fraser, and Leon & Saul), but delving into the backstory of every single minor character we encounter. Admittedly, this does make for some interesting references (like the serial killer bus driver), but mostly it is just incredibly annoying.
Begrudgingly, I must also admit that at times, the book was funny, mostly when it was poking fun at human nature and comparing Catholics to Protestants. Ferguson has a distinctive writing style that, while it did not always work for me, I appreciated that it might work for other people. In fact, my main thought while reading this is “huh, maybe my dad would like this book” (because I firmly believe that, with the exception of The Stand, my father and I have complete opposite tastes in books).
Additionally, as much as I disliked the constant rabbit holes of minor characters, the parts of the book I enjoyed most were the short stories told to the main characters, especially the one about the Crusader and the ‘witch’.
I’m feeling generous and proud of myself for reading the whole thing and not taking the easy way out, so I’ll round it up to 2 stars.
Actually, wait, I’m removing another star because (SPOILERS) I hated that Claudette’s entire purpose was to make dying men happy. Even worse than this was the explanation that her first lover haunted the goddamn apartment (but in a nice ghost way because he, at least, wasn’t an asshole) and only left once Claudette fulfilled her life’s purpose of sleeping with George (okay, maybe the lover was an asshole). And because Claudette is pretty much the only character in the book who isn’t a mother or a hooker.
Honestly, I could have tagged this as ‘Not my Wheelhouse’–which, coincidentally, is the last box I need to tick for a bingo.
Bingo Square: #Cannonbookclub
Other Squares: Underrepresented, Brain Candy, White Whale, Cover Art, This Old Thing, Throwback Thursday, And So It Begins, Birthday!, So Shiny!