Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Invincible Summer

So, I mentioned before I won a free book. That book was Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskovwitz.

Before I get into reviewing that book I wanted to preface it with something. Because it feels like most days I am writing to and for myself I can’t help but to be myself.

Meaning? Well, if I am going to work on developing my voice and building an imaginary following then I would like to do so from a very honest place in my dark soul.

Let me start the review by saying I think it would be well worth the purchase and is a very thoughtful piece that captures that sense of summer and freedom that many of us feel growing up. I think it also pretty accurately explores the complicated relationships many of us have with siblings and parents alike.

Consider what I say next with a grain of salt and the understanding that I point it out as much for my benefit as a writer as anything else. Every piece of writing can be made stronger.

Writing is complicated and depends a lot on nuances of message and target audience. Sometimes there is a conflict between what I want to convey and what I think people will understand or take away from the words I use.

This book was the best and worst of undergrad memoirs to me. It went on and on with endless Camus quotes, which are great and fill out many pages, but were not always strictly necessary. Nor were they always the best of quotes for the situation. The reason I point this out is two-fold.

The first is simply that I think as writers we get wrapped up sometimes in our own enlightenments and want to share it. I am fine with that. I almost felt like the book was proselytizing on Camus’ behalf and that to me goes too far.

The second is to point out my bias. I think life and philosophy are deeply personal and shaped by our experiences. My experience with most philosophers in terms of writing and those obsessed with them is that they enjoy hearing themselves think out loud far too much. Shove a sock in it Camus and let me hear the ocean.

My other hurdle in this book was hurting for hurting’s sake. Call it the rage of emoism or the need of a younger generation (or any generation) to prove their raison d’ĂȘtre. I don’t believe in it.

Life is full of enough true strife that tossing in a tragedy, one of many, more than two-thirds of the way through a book is silly. You don’t have time to adequately address it when it is life altering and I feel like the story would have been just as strong or stronger without it. Now, I am not saying it wasn’t realistic or even possible, just a bit much. It borders on that life is sometimes stranger than fiction because I know people who worse events have happened to.

And my last thought on the piece is that no matter how much I enjoyed it, and I did, I feel like this is a perfect example of my earlier discussion on the lack of connection to reality some authors and many movies have.

How many people have beach homes? How many kids have no concept of what use a summer job might be? Also I believe it is ironic when one family decides another is pretentious because of their name when obviously both families are pretty pretentious. See beach house comment above.

That being said, I still think it is a very good book and definitely worth reading. So do it! Stay tuned on Thursday for a review of the phenomenal Anita Laydon Miller’s Earthling Hero.

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