Bingo Square: #Cannonbookclub
I expect there will be quite a lot of discussion for this novel on book club day considering the varied reactions it has been getting. Surprisingly, I fall on the like side for this one. I mean, I doubt I would recommend it to anyone, but I would dissuade anyone from reading it, either. It’s absolutely a flawed novel, and I can understand the complaints people have. Certainly, it is not at all what I would have expected from the Craig Ferguson everyone has come to know and enjoy from his talk show stint – and it barely even takes place in Scotland. Then again, the first time I ever saw Ferguson was as the asshole boss on Drew Carey so it’s not like the man doesn’t have layers.
So many of the characters are slightly off-putting and involved in ridiculous situations, and yet it felt familiar to other books I have read in the past. I went through a John Irving phase, and his novels often had characters in ludicrous situations,and while Irving had slightly nicer characters, I think Ferguson’s approach is potentially similar or reminiscent. I think some parts have not aged well at all, especially some of the sexual comments, and yet, overall, I quite enjoyed some of the references, and the allusions and mockery so thinly veiled Ferguson might as well have just used the real names and words. Meg Roberts the Hollywood sweetheart, Nicholas Kilmer who seems to take any role, Peephole magazine, Brainyism for the popular fake religion taking the stars by storm? It’s all so ridiculously obvious and tongue in cheek.
There were definitely more dream sequences than I liked but I think had accepted the novel for what it was, and the level of disbelief required. Besides, I like the way he connected and tied everything together, often referencing the same movies and screenwriters and actors in multiple chapters, adding deeper connections and context.
Even with the slight messiness of the novel, every once in a while Ferguson would have a dry and clever aside which were the parts of the novel I enjoyed most. For a three star book with lots of eh parts, I have a surprising number of passages highlighted.
When describing Glasgow and how the buildings had been sandblasted: “which Gus, along with most Glaswegians, secretly detested. This town used to be black and sooty and smelly and terrifying.” I had a similar reaction the first time I saw the Regensburg cathedral after it had been cleaned, revealing the original limestone of the Gothic building. I had always associated Gothic buildings with dark gray stones, only to discover that the gray was the result of the Industrial Revolution and the soot. I preferred the dark look to the light and bright facade. I blame Gothic literature for thinking Gothic has to be dark.
Most of the other quotes simply point out certain ironies or make gentle fun of Hollywood.
“When Uncle Sam intervened to stop the Serbs from ethnically cleansing the Bosnians, the military action was performed using Apache helicopter gunships. Helicopters named after a people that had been ethnically cleansed in the United States less than one hundred years previously.”
About a snake: “He’d been biting his way around the Southern states and had figured out that biting was a way to avoid being prodded – rather like a Hollywood film star who finds out that bad behavior is rewarded in show business.”
About Palm Springs and Las Vegas: “A few psychics who have been there have guessed the awful truth of the place. It was never designed or meant to have humans live there, it is not an oasis or strategic position. The land resents the presence of people … in Las Vegas, the land actually has a plan. It is waiting until the land reaches its maximum size, then the desert will swallow it and all the dirty, greedy cash-eating robots who live there and shit them into hell, where they belong.”
Bingo Square: #Cannonbookclub
Bingos 7,8,9,10 and 11! – Column 3, Row 3, both diagonals, Four Corners Plus Center