by Joe Basara
I had this book on my To Read list for a while on Goodreads thanks to
Ethan Cooper's marvelous review. Finally I decimated the virtual To Be
Read pile on my Kindle enough that I decided to buy this. In part
because it's less than a dollar and most big publisher books are eight
to twelve times that much. I can at least say I got my dollar's worth.
the author likes to reference old TV shows, I find it appropriate to
reference an old TV show, in this case "Scrubs" which ended only a
couple years ago, so it isn't that old. Like that show this book takes
place largely in a hospital and features a twentysomething main
character who likes to daydream a lot and lust after his coworkers.
Only Basara's book is a lot less wacky and sadly does not feature anyone
as hilariously grumpy as Dr. Cox.
Though since this book takes
place in 1977 a M*A*S*H reference might have been more appropriate.
Actually I think that's one series the author doesn't manage to directly
reference in the book. Anyway, Owen Cloud moves back to his old
stomping grounds in rural Florida to work as an orderly at a hospital.
He almost right away falls head over heels for one of his coworkers, but
eventually moves on to another and then to what I'd call the
"consolation prize" girl, the one who's been there all along but only at
the end does Owen realize is available. (This is incidentally a trope
I've used a number of times. Like this book for example: Virgin Territory)
the way Owen spends a lot of time daydreaming and philosophizing. The
almost constant bombardment of literary quotes and TV/song references
from the 50s-70s become irritating after a little while. They give the
narrative an ADHD feel, as if the author can't focus on one scene so he
keeps jumping from one tangent to another.
If you look past those
there's a well-written book about small town life, coming of age, and
finding love. Since it's apparently a debut effort it's not bad. If a
little more focus were devoted to developing the story and characters
and less to quotes and references, it would have the gritty small-town
feel of a Richard Russo novel like Empire Falls.
Still for a buck you can do a lot worse.
That is all.