20 May 2009

Books: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron

James Sveck reminds me a lot of Jaye Tyler of FOX TVs short-lived, but brilliant Wonderfalls. He’s 18 and spending the summer of 2003 -before going to college - trying to connect to someone. And, despite being accepted to Brown University (the same place Jaye went and graduated from on the TV show), he feels college is wasteful, insomuch as he hates people his own age and does not want to college with them.

He feels disconnected to the world, one where his mother is on her third marriage -which seems to last only a few days - and has a sister who’s having an affair with a married man. The only people he seems to think are real, are his aging grandmother and John, the handsome man who works with James at his mothers art gallery in New York City. And no one seems to understand why he would want leave the Big Apple for an old house in the Midwest.

But James is cynical, witty, articulate and sensitive to the oddities of the world, and feels he must comment on modern societies love of law firms, art, cosmetic surgery, jobs, dogs, real estate, and therapy. He could, I guess, be compared to Holden Caulfield of Catcher in the Rye or even the hero of John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces.

A charming and often laugh out loud look at growing up, and trying to come to terms with a world that has little time for people who think and act differently from the rest.

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