Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Reason You're Alive - Matthew Quick

'That morning I'd been worried I might be scalped, and here I was among the warmest people I will probably ever meet, no matter how long I live.'


Daniel got me this book as a gift! It's seemingly becoming a tradition, as he got me Every Exquisite Thing last year. I'm very happy about that, naturally. And since you can't actually see it from a picture, I have to tell you that the letters are imprinted on the dustjacket and the cover is really nice to the touch and I love running my fingers across it. Points for that!

(clears throat) Anyway, you might know by now that The Silver Linings Playbook is my favourite book and I'm fully on board to read everything Matthew Quick writes in the future and the past, so as soon as this book was announced, I was excited! (I've also reviewed Sorta Like a Rockstar on this blog!)

David Granger is a 68-year old Vietnam War veteran who's recently had a brain tumour removed. He's trying to find closure with the war and the awful things he did and trying to live a life without his wife, whom he lost three decades ago. This book is a story he writes for someone else to read, a story about his life.

David is on paper a person I can't imagine liking. He's very politically incorrect, a republican and against gun control. He is, however, very funny and likeable and I found myself really fond of him by the end of the book. This book was very honest and heartfelt, and most of it really did come from David's character. I think there is something to be said there about how we should give people another chance beyond that first impression and not just judge them based on how we think they should be. Hm.

I also enjoyed all of the side characters - David's liberal art-dealer son Hank, granddaughter Ella, Gay Timmy and Gay Johnny, his genetically Vietnamese-American best friend Sue and Clayton Fire Bear. They all had their own stories and lives and it was refreshing to see them through David's politically incorrect eyes.

Unfortunately, I'm quite convinced American readers will enjoy this book more than I did or ever could. This book is about as American as they get, and I just don't have the cultural heritage to understand this in the way someone else could. There's baseball and Republican politics and history of oppression and the Vietnam War itself, all topics I don't really have a personal connection to. And these are just the first examples that came to my mind.

I suppose it would be stupid to ask for Matthew Quick to write something that wasn't so inherently American, especially when it's something that provides a lot of charm for his works, but it's just a shame to realise. Quite possibly this is also the reason I feel like giving it 4/5 instead of 5/5 - my own shortcomings. There was also something about the ending that, even though it made me extremely happy, just worked out a little too conveniently.

All in all though, this book was short and heartfelt and upbeat and that is essentially what I love Matthew Quick's works for. It has a lot of themes I've come to recognise as his, and I think this will be my second favourite work of his so far. I cannot wait for his next book!

Also, at mum if you're reading this, I think you'd like this one! I'll bring it with me for Christmas! :)

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I'll put this in category 1: A book's name is beautiful. Funny story, I've actually been saving category 18: There are no less than four words in a book's name for this, but now that I read this... I understand the meaning behind the name and I don't think I'll read anything so beautifully named this year.

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