Thursday, March 7, 2013

Eeked it out: "This Bright River" by Patrick Somerville

Eeked it out: This Bright River by Patrick Somerville, 2012, 9780316129312.

449 pages?  Really?  You couldn't cut that down just a little bit?

Lots of rambling talk by drunk characters, drugged characters, insane characters, and undergrads.

Ben is back in small town St. Helens (just NW of Milwaukee).  Ben was in prison for several months for arson.  Ben was a drunk and heroin user who set a house on fire.  Ben's ex-girlfriend and ex-best friend are now together and made a computer game using Ben's puzzles.  Ben's ultra-rich parents have asked him to sell his recently deceased uncle's home in St. Helen's and he can get a percentage.  Much of this only trickles out during Ben's long, long, long narration.

Lauren knew Ben in high school. Lauren was a loner.  Lauren went to college.  Lauren went to med school.  Lauren went to aid work in Africa.  Lauren fell for other doctor.  Lauren married other doctor.  Lauren realized other doctor was a nut and also fed her some roofies and anally raped her.  Lauren left doctor in their Swiss home four years ago and has been a coffee girl and veterinary assistant.

Ben is troubled by his own mistakes and history and has always been shiftless and unmotivated.  Ben still misses his older cousin who died in the UP during severe cold weather one winter when cousin was inexplicably away from UW-Madison.

Ben narrates along for many pages.  Lauren narrates for some pages.  Ben narates some more.  Ben tells meandering tales.  Ben recalls meandering tales.  Ben meanders through life.  The story meanders through my life and takes too much damn time.  Ex-husband finally shows up and goes insane and gets shot.  Ben figures out why his cousin was in the UP.

The sex parts were okay.

1.  Cut out 100-200 pages and I'd like it a lot better.
2.  Gratuitous Wisconsin geography and lingo.
3.  Except for cheese curds.  No cheese curds.
4. I think Somerville does some good writing.  He knows what he is doing and has skill.  But, this book does not work for me.

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