Some New Trend

The Funny and the Profound :: Downtown Owl by Kevin Wilder

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The Dog Lover was like an anti-humanist version of Ralph Nader, except 8 inches shorter and less interested in seatbelt technology.

For Chuck Klosterman’s fifth book, and first novel, he returned to familiar territory. The story takes place in the North Dakota town of Owl, and follows at least three citizens in 1983-1984. Mitch is a smart, girl-obsessed teen athlete whose class, along with the rest of the school, is reading Orwell’s 1984 to draw comparisons. Horace is a seventy-something man, who’s received his share of hardships, like dealing with the loss of his wife to a rare sleep disorder, and being cheated out of her life insurance money in a scandal. And Julia just moved to Owl for a teaching job, only to find out that every man in town is pursuing her.

There’s a lot to love about Downtown Owl. The good parts are great. The great parts are funny. Klosterman is able to juggle several non-interlinking stories at once. Sometimes, however, the narrative seems to go nowhere. In several longwinded portions, he gives into his editorial tendencies, talking extensively about sports and other topics that digresses from what’s ultimately interesting about the story: the characters, and their efforts to understand what is normal.

I heard an interview a while back where the author admitted finding difficulty in the process of writing fiction. Keeping this in mind, this book might be his winning inception. Can I admit, though, that I feel the same way about Chuck Klosterman as I do Kanye West? The very minute I think he’s glittering with respectability, he’ll say or do something to get under my skin. I loved what he wrote in a copy of my friend’s book, but hated it when he decided not to review King Dork, claiming the subject matter was too elementary. He might have hilarious views on some things and inaccurate opinions on others, but maybe we all can be blame for this. And furthermore, if from time to time  you wonder if you’re truly normal, well, you might have just found something in common with these characters, which might be a good enough reason to read this book.


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[…] Downtown Owl July 30, 2009 Book #29 was cross-posted at Some New Trend: […]

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