Avid Readers, Occasional Bloggers

Tag: Jim Krusoe

New York Times on Toward You by Jim Krusoe

Following in my footsteps the NYT has a review of Toward You by Jim Krusoe.  Sam Munson doesn’t care much for the parts of the story not in the narrator’s voice buy appreciates Krusoe’s talent and the voice of Bob:

That voice is the most powerful component of “Toward You” — when Bob speaks, we listen. Krusoe’s skill both in evoking Bob’s claustrophobic loneliness (he will address any being, animate or not, as though it were capable of conversation) and in endowing him with a rich but never writerly language (he recalls Yvonne preparing to eat a bowl of pea soup “as a few croutons floated on its quiet, green surface”) ensure that he has our attention.

[…]

Krusoe’s sure and subtle imaginings of such characters — yearning, isolated and finally enigmatic — place him among the foremost creators of surreal ­Americana.

I can agree with that last sentence but the novel as a whole didn’t quite work for me:

Krusoe is clearly a talented wordsmith with a witty eye for the lives and relationships of the socially challenged. But for me it seems the combination of lead character, plot and other elements have to come together just right for it to “work.”

 

Toward You by Jim Krusoe

It is interesting to me how sometimes an author’s style and approach can “work” while at other times – with almost the exact same ingredients – it falls flat. I was pondering this after having read Jim Krusoe‘s latest novel Toward You.

Krusoe spins what I would describe as tales of comic absurd-ism. Little lives not quite connected to reality tempered with a connection to, or a desperate need to connect to, the afterlife.

In this volume, a furniture upholsterer named Bob has been working his whole life on a “communicator” that would allow the living to hear from the dead. But the communicator seems instead to be taking the focus off  more important things in his life – like his work and relationships with the living. A dead dog and and encounter with an ex-girlfriend kick off the plot such as it is.

Krusoe has a way with sketching witty vignettes with these desperate characters – some goodhearted, others not – that makes the reading enjoyable. But the story in this and the previous novel  just don’t have the movement and zip of the first.

Erased by Jim Krusoe

cover_erasedI enjoyed Girl Factory, and am a fan of the folks at Tin House, so I was interested to read Jim Krusoe’s latest work Erased.  Here is the publisher’s description:

Abandonment, life, death, and, oddly, Cleveland are explored in the hilarious second installment of Jim Krusoe’s trilogy about resurrection.

In Erased, Krusoe takes on a dead mother who mysteriously sends notes from the beyond to her grown son, Theodore, the owner of a mail-order gardening-implement business. “I need to see you,” the first card reads. Theodore does what any sensible person would: he ignores it. But when he gets a second card that’s even more urgent, Theodore leaves his quiet home in St. Nils for a radiantly imagined Cleveland, Ohio, to track down his mother. There, aided by Uleene, the last remaining member of Satan’s Samaritans, an all-girl biker club, he searches through the realms of women’s clubs, art, rodent extermination, and sport fishing until he finds the answers he seeks.

This had me intrigued as I found the balance between absurdest comedy and philosophical questioning in Girl Factory entertaining and thought provoking. Plus, it satirizes Cleveland.  That alone has to be worth some laughs.

But for whatever reason, Erased didn’t quite work for me.  Erased is still the same blend of dream like states and all too real reality.  It still comes with a host of funny quips, entertaining characters, and absurd situations as Krusoe’s previous work.  And I enjoyed that aspect.

But it seemed to me that Krusoe turned up the absurdest and surrealist aspects of the novel to such a degree that the plot or narrative got lost.  I realize that perhaps the plot in the traditional sense wasn’t the point.  But for me there needs to be something that pulls the story forward and also causes it to cohere into something more than a collection of words; no matter how well crafted.

Erased by Jim Krusoe

cover_erasedI enjoyed Girl Factory, and am a fan of the folks at Tin House, so I was interested to read Jim Krusoe’s latest work Erased.  Here is the publisher’s description:

Abandonment, life, death, and, oddly, Cleveland are explored in the hilarious second installment of Jim Krusoe’s trilogy about resurrection.

In Erased, Krusoe takes on a dead mother who mysteriously sends notes from the beyond to her grown son, Theodore, the owner of a mail-order gardening-implement business. “I need to see you,” the first card reads. Theodore does what any sensible person would: he ignores it. But when he gets a second card that’s even more urgent, Theodore leaves his quiet home in St. Nils for a radiantly imagined Cleveland, Ohio, to track down his mother. There, aided by Uleene, the last remaining member of Satan’s Samaritans, an all-girl biker club, he searches through the realms of women’s clubs, art, rodent extermination, and sport fishing until he finds the answers he seeks.

This had me intrigued as I found the balance between absurdest comedy and philosophical questioning in Girl Factory entertaining and thought provoking. Plus, it satirizes Cleveland.  That alone has to be worth some laughs.

But for whatever reason, Erased didn’t quite work for me.  Erased is still the same blend of dream like states and all too real reality.  It still comes with a host of funny quips, entertaining characters, and absurd situations as Krusoe’s previous work.  And I enjoyed that aspect.

But it seemed to me that Krusoe turned up the absurdest and surrealist aspects of the novel to such a degree that the plot or narrative got lost.  I realize that perhaps the plot in the traditional sense wasn’t the point.  But for me there needs to be something that pulls the story forward and also causes it to cohere into something more than a collection of words; no matter how well crafted.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén