09 March 2011

Books: Spooner by Pete Dexter (2010)

For Pete Dexter, Spooner is more a memorish novel than anything else. He spins a tale of one Warren Spooner, who sort of haplessly blunders through life, firing through life almost unwittingly.

Dexter admits that the novel is loosely based on characters and events from his life, so sometimes you have to wonder where real life and fiction begins, intertwines and then ends as page through the book -such as the case of young Warren breaking and entering and then peeing in his neighbors shoes.

The author, known for thrillers such as the award winning Paris Trout, paints Spooner in a colorful, often funny way. And while there are a number of disturbing disasters in Spooner’s life, just when you think the book was going to get dark, Dexter slips in a pratfall or something even more odd to lighten the mood.

At first, I kinda of saw Spooner more like Forest Gump, sort of slow and maybe a bit unstable. He seemed to stumble through life, starting a career in baseball that is, predictably, ruined by injuries. He has failed marriages, and then almost by accident (as it sometimes happens), he stumbles head over heels into a writing career (newspapers and then novels). But as the novel progressed, you begin to see an interesting, very human man who lives a calm, almost serene life -borne, no doubt, by a caring stepfather.

If there was one fault, it would be the novel is a bit overlong -even if it’s a pseudo-memoir. According to the author, he had to cut 250 out of the book to make it work better. At 459 pages (for the paperback), it could have used a bit more trimming, especially in the middle when the story begins to sag.

Its well written, humorous and, at times, heartbreaking. Still, it took me forever to read it. Glad I did, because it is worth the time, I just wished the pace was more smoother.

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