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Carissa Green Reads

I read widely from many genres. Perhaps this blog will feature fewer ratings and reviews, but I certainly intend to write about my reading life - it's the subject I most find myself wanting to talk about.

Currently reading

The Selected Poems of Donald Hall
Donald Hall
The Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs
Walter Kaufmann, Friedrich Nietzsche
A Kierkegaard Anthology
Robert W. Bretall
The Guns of August
Barbara W. Tuchman
SPOILER ALERT!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews

The film "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" came to one of our local theaters last month. That surprised me because although we have a 15-screen independent theatre and a 10-screen chain theatre neither is particularly good about scheduling independent art-house pictures.

 

Since I heard that the film was a Sundance darling, I ran to the library to get the book. Because what's the rule in Carissaland? (Say it with me): Always read the book first. I read the book. I didn't love it. But it grew on me. 

 

A first-person narrative is risky. The character must be strong and unique and carry the entire narrative. That's key. This character, Greg Gaines, does that. But for the first 40 or 50 pages, he's insufferably obnoxious. (That actually doesn't dissipate much through the novel, but it gets balanced by a lot more plot and pathos as things progress.)

 

There seems to be no point to Greg's narrative for a long while, and the reason he's even telling this story is held back until the very, very end. I was pretty disappointed until the second-billed Earl show up. He makes things interesting. A plot actually develops. 

 

In some ways, this is the anti-"Fault in Our Stars," but there's still some pathos. We still care about Greg, especially, and his teenage delusions. 

 

I did get thrown out of the story twice, on amateur moves by the author that really didn't belong in a 21st century book. First his narrator makes a clumsy and unnecessary Nazi reference. Then, some 100-plus pages later, he makes a similarly clunky and useless Stalin reference. Guess what: Your petty teenage problems don't merit that. Shut it. Grow up. Andrews should know better; he's an adult even if his character isn't.

 

I liked the book. I recommend it. But don't feel like you have to rush right out and read it like I did. That turned out to be a waste anyway - the movie left town before I got a chance to see it.

 

-cg