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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

LibraryThing Early Review

You Comma Idiot
by Doug Harris

Received. Looks funny.

Is funny. One funny cool thing is that the publicity person responsible for sending out review copies is already a person whose judgment I trust in choosing the funny: Corey Redekopp, author of Shelf Monkey, one of my all-time favourite book-books (and one of this year's Canada Reads Top 40! Yeah!)

This book manages to be funny and Canadian-local, without being parochial and I'm-Canadian-look-at-me. It reminds me of the experience of reading Michael Chabon - I feel an absolute homegrown sense of the accurate ear of the writer. I am not a Montreal small-time drug-dealer/loser (shocker, I know, right?) but as a Canadian adult I find the characters and dialogue totally believable.

I also really love the take on the narrative voice. I seem to mention that a lot in my reviews. It must be hard for a writer to come up with (and therefore hard for a reader to run into) a fresh style of narrative voice. There are already a lot of good books in the world, after all. Although the device chosen by Harris has been used before (rarely), this is one great new version. It is...well...I guess it has to be called an interior monologue. Harold Bloom (one of my reading heroes) cites Hamlet as the first character given an interior monologue, and it is the paradigm. Hamlet wonders aloud, abstractly.."Is it...?" Harris has his character Lee address himself as "you" as in "You are running down the street..." The reader is not watching the character talk to himself - the reader is inside the conversation, he is an interlocutor with himself, the character. Cool.

I have no way of judging if little Canadian books become successful and I don't have much time to devote to checking whether they receive good critical notices. However, I can rave as Souci on LibraryThing, and The Nervous Marigold. I can tell my reading buddies, and I can lend my copy around to the worthy.

This is a super book, and it is satisfying to know that there are new Canadian writers that are outside the canon (for now), outside the political-book complex, just writing good books that READERS ENJOY!

The marigold wonders nervously if it would be overstating it to mention the indecisive loser-ishness of Hamlet being a germane reference in You Comma Idiot, or if that is perhaps reaching a bit too far.

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