Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book 28: "One Day" by Dave Nicholls

One Day is the story of the very long and tumultuous friendship of Dexter and Emma. The book begins when they are just finishing college and starting out in the real world, and it goes on to check on them every year for about 20 years on roughly the same day--Dexter's birthday. It's a sweet, fun story about friendship and growing up, and one of the most relatable books I've read recently.

The book begins when Emma and Dexter meet and sort-of hookup at a party after their graduation from college. Dexter is living the dream; he's handsome, rich and a hit with the ladies. Emma is bookish and shy and has had a crush on Dexter for a while. Their hookup is mostly forgettable to him (he likes her enough to be her friend but nothing more), but it means everything to her. After that they part ways, with Dexter becoming almost instantly successful as a TV presenter without working very hard at all, and Emma floundering to find something meaningful to do after college. We check in on them as they go through their 20s, always keeping in touch with each other, with their friendship growing now stronger and then weaker through the years. But they're always there in each other's minds--at first it's Emma who needs Dexter, but eventually Dexter comes to need her even more than she does him.

It's a wonderfully engaging story about friendship and growing up, and though that sounds kind of cliche and cheesy, I think most people of my generation could easily relate to one of the two main characters. Emma's story definitely hit close to my heart--those days as she's trying to figure out who she is and what she wants to do and never feeling quite sure of herself? Yeah, that was me in my early 20s. Hell, I still feel like that sometimes. As for Dexter I could easily think of three or four people I know who are exactly like him: vain, always winning at everything, seemingly perfect but always wanting something more. It was all very easy to relate to.

I mostly really liked this book. There were a few times when the story slowed down a little too much, but I think it fit in with the idea that you're looking at the lives of two very ordinary people, and ordinary lives aren't always that exciting. The best thing about it, though, was how real and sweet the friendship between the two characters was. Sometimes they argue and hurt each other, but it just makes their love for each other stronger, and I think we all have at least one friendship like that. The only part I didn't much care for was the ending, but the least I say about that the better. This is one book where the journey is worth the disappointing destination.

And how's that last sentence for cliched and cheesy?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book 27: "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole

I'll make this a short one. Both because I need to catch up on reviews and because I honestly don't remember much of this book at all. Didn't make much of an impact, to be honest.

I think this ended up on my library list after I asked Pajiba for recommendations on books that were funny. This one was at the top of many lists, so I decided to give it a book. I needed a good laugh after the drearyness of The Road.

Now, it's been a while since I read it, but I don't rememeber it being that funny. I remember a few laugh-out-loud moments, but for the most part the book was just very absurd in its characters and situations. More silly than hilarious, if that makes any sense.

The story centers around the sad adventures of Ignatius J Reilly, a hideous, fat, lazy loser in his 40s who still lives with his miserable mother. He spends his days in his room and refuses to get a job, insisting he's too smart and capable for most mundane occupations. No one understands his genius, so he spends hours writing ridiculous papers and treatises that no one will read. When his mother makes him go out and get a job he ends up trying out several of them, all of which he fails at in ridiculous and somtimes hilarious ways. The story just gets progressively more absurd and ridiculous, and all the characters exist in a bizarre world where everyone is equally insane.

So, if you enjoy absurdist comedy and reading stories that don't make a whole lot of sense, you'll enjoy this. You'll probably crack up several times. I found it a little hard to read. Funny in parts, but on the whole just kind of messy. I guess I like my books to have more of a center that I can hold on to.

I apologize for the half-assed review, but I'm really just wanting to move on to books I actually liked.