Completion Date: August 16, 2011
Reason for Reading: Received review copy from Harper Collins via NetGalley.
Tom Violet has failed, once again, to have sex with his wife.Let us be honest here, I have no idea why I read this book. It does not sound like my kind of read at all. I suppose that is what drew me to it. I have seen a few positive reviews, it was on Net Galley, and it is good to spice things up once in a while. The result? I found this book very fun and am so happy I broke out of my comfort zone to give it a read. I consider it a strong recommendation when someone says they loved a book that they normally would never even read. This is an example of that from me.
And that’s not the worst of it. Besides his latest false start in the bedroom, there’s the 9-5 office job that’s slowly crushing his spirit, his lovelorn stepfather who’s in constant need of counsel, and the strange realization that his boozy stepmother is sort of stalking him. Then, of course, there's his own inappropriate crush on a 23-year-old colleague, the growing suspicion that his wife is having an affair with someone from her gym, and the family dog, Hank, who suffers from acute anxiety. And then there’s the novel—the one he’s been slaving over for years, all the while haunted by the fear that it will never see the light of day. Too young to have these kinds of problems, but too old to see any easy way out, Tom finds himself mired in hopeless inaction. And then his philandering, borderline-estranged father, Curtis, shows up in the middle of the night and tells him: a) that he’s just been thrown out of his own house by wife #3; b) that he’ll be moving in with Tom for who knows how long; and c) that he’s just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Pushed to the brink, Tom decides to take things in an entirely different direction by enacting a series of truly stupid plans for revenge and self-improvement that, of course, go completely haywire.
The novel is told from the viewpoint of Tom Violet. Tom is an aspiring author, a family man, and is very unhappy in his job. On the night that the book begins he has just failed to have sex with his wife for what turns out to not be the first time. Then, his daughter comes rushing to their room to say someone has broken into the house. It turns out to be Tom's father, Curtis, who technically owns the house to begin with. After this, anything is possible. Curtis was never the best father, but he is one of the best writers in the world. This is shown by the fact that he has just won the Pulitzer prize. I love books about books. I really would love to be able to read Curtis Violets books because they sound fantastic! Tom and his whole family are big readers, so there are lots of bookish mentions. This book is a book nerds dream!
The problems in Tom's domestic life were the things I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy. Tom is having troubles having sex, there is a cute young girl at his work, and his wife has met someone at the gym. Marriage problems in books are never something I rush out and read about, but they didn't destroy the book for me. There were moments where I felt things were a bit too predictable, but nothing that took away from my enjoyment of the overall story. I enjoyed the characters. Even the dog, Hank, has a presence in the story and is fun. Tom is also very easy to relate to. He has been working at a job that was never meant to be his career, but he has stuck around for many years. The economic crisis plays a big part in the book, so he uses that as an excuse to continue to hold onto a job that brings him only unhappiness. Tom grows in this book, though, and maybe he doesn't do the smartest things in the world to come about that growth, but it makes for entertaining reading!
I could go on and on about this book. I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed it. There is a lot going on. The thing I enjoyed is that the book manges to be fun while still tackling some very difficult issues. I closed the book with a smile. I look forward to reading more by Matthew Norman. He has a fantastic writing style, writes great characters, and manages to appeal to the bookish nerds of the world. All in all a very fun and successful read.