Friday, April 29, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [adult]

This review appeared in the Stratford Gazette on April 28, 2011
Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian

Crazy, by William Peter Blatty
@SPL: FIC Blatt

A person might be forgiven for thinking that the author of a cult horror novel – namely The Exorcist – could not be the same person behind a novel that dwells on the amusements of growing up in 1941. But he is. William Peter Blatty gets the angst of adolescent Joey El Bueno perfectly right – the secret fantasies, paranoias, hopes and dreams of a kid growing up in New York, just before America joins World War II. From the internal dialogues that are like runaway trains, changing subject mid-stream (the way a pre-teen’s mind does), to the parental embarrassment, to spending precious spare change by taking in every movie multiple times (it’s no wonder Joey grows up to be a Hollywood screen writer). Joey’s life is dominated by a number of forces – his near poverty, the war he doesn’t see coming, the absence of his mother, and mostly the enigmatic Jane, a girl who floats (sometimes literally) in an out of his whole life, seemingly ageless (but eats like no ghost he’s ever heard of), teaching him life lessons and keeping him puzzled until the very end of his days.

The novel moves back and forth from senior citizen Joey to young Joey as he remembers and reminisces and tries to put the pieces together about Jane, so the reader is kept guessing how much of his memory is intact – given that Joey has always preferred science fiction, there may be an odd chance that he is making some of it up for the memoirs he has started to write. It all makes sense by the end, but readers, do yourself a favour and don’t skip ahead – the dialogue is smart-alecky and surprisingly descriptive, and very, very funny throughout, and you won’t want to miss any of it. 

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