Monday, February 6, 2012

Book Review - Busy Monsters: A Novel

Busy Monsters: A Novel by William Giraldi is a dizzying book that came out last year to rave reviews from both critiques and other established authors alike. It opens with the protagonist heading to kill the ex-boyfriend of his true love, who happens to be obsessed with the giant squid, and takes you on a journey involving Sasquatch, aliens and ghosts. The novel is not a horror story, though, more a romantic comedy.

What I found most interesting reading Busy Monsters is how much of the standard rules for writing contemporary fiction were discarded. The use of jargon and esoteric vocabulary, for example, is generally considered a no-no. But if you read Busy Monsters, I recommend doing it on Kindle or other e-book platform so you have easy access to a dictionary because each page is packed with literary and mythical references. Likewise, avoiding self-conscious writing, or as Elmore Leonard put it, "If it sounds written, I re-write it," is the golden rule of modern fiction, yet when I read Busy Monsters, I can't help but feel the fun Mr. Giradli had crafting the story and pushing the boundaries of literary convention.

So is it worth a read? As I mentioned it is a love story and all romances can basically be broken down to the following plot line. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets back girl. (except Shakespeare when boy gets girl and they commit suicide). But most stories can be reduced to such a basic, common plot structure so the key is how original the author tells the formulaic tale. And if Busy Monsters is anything, it is unique compared to what's out there. Although, I do wonder if Mr. Giraldi read Stone Junction by Jim Dodge, which is a coming of age story that I kept thinking about when I read this book. Read the two and you will see what I mean.

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