Thursday, October 10, 2013

Not quite measuring up

Book: Nine Inches: Stories
Author: Tom Perrotta
Published: 2013

Here’s the thing: Perrotta writes like he’s tapping into this shared American consciousness, but he doesn’t tap – deep? Hard? I refuse to keep the penis jokes to a minimum on this blog – enough to get the depth of details he needs to make his characters or situations feel organic.

As it is, his high school slackers and overachievers and stressed-out parents and lonely teachers are just a couple finer strokes away from the finishing touches that would take them out of their arctypes.

Arctypes work for comics, genre fiction, or other media that depend on something other than character (visuals, plot, setting) to do 51% of more of the heavy lifting. But you can’t get away with that in realism literary fiction.

Having lectured, let me tell you how fun and poignant the title story is here: very. I went back to middle school dances and all the absurdity and importance and hormones through a teacher who’s experiencing all of it through his not-quite-unrequited crush on the art teacher and having to break apart a moony couple over a dumb rule he doesn’t want to enforce. That was great and made me tear up.

But everything else was surface level that took itself too seriously. Back to the library it goes.

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