Saturday, December 22, 2007
"The Year of Endless Sorrows," by Adam Rapp
I have no idea why there is a garden gnome on the cover of the book. Maybe it's to try and make the reader think that, despite its title, this will be a lovable book. Well, that's a filthy lie.
The main character, a Midwestern boy who moves to New York City to pursue a writing career, has no name. Or at least, it isn't given in the novel. He gets a crappy apartment with his brother, a good friend, and some loser who demands to be called The Loach. He finds a job in a publishing company and does some crap work there. His gastrointestinal wonder of a boss makes him take out his crazy daughter, who meows when they have sex. He hurts his knee while playing basketball, and it leaves him with a severe limp throughout most of the book, though it does inspire him to write his first novel.
Loach never pays any of his bills; he just sits on the couch day-in and day-out, picking his nose, farting, staring at the TV, letting his balls hang out. The best friend, The Owl, starts going mad and drops out of the school he'd been enrolled in. Brother, Feick, abruptly moves out after becoming a critics' darling in plays and finally coming out of the closet.
The new girlfriend, Basha, gets pregnant and decides to have an abortion, but changes her mind after the procedure has begun. They go to a hotel and she bleeds a lot. Then she disappears and goes back to Poland.
Endless Sorrows was a depressing, slow ride of literary hell. I could get through the plot and "endless sorrows" if only Rapp's writing wasn't so pretentious. It was excruciatingly obvious that each line had been carefully thought-out and analyzed to provide maximum impact. It felt as though Rapp was hoping that his novel was going to be lauded for its prose, but it really just bogs down the story. For the love of God, skip this book.