John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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"My Legendary Girlfriend" by Mike Gayle

As I mentioned a bit back, huskyteer sent me a copy of My Legendary Girlfriend, by Mike Gayle, on the grounds that it probably qualified as the kind of thing I was referring to when bemoaning the absence of Dude Lit. In which regard, she was right, actually. :) It's quite the internet pal who'll mail you a book all the way across the Atlantic.

Anyway, I finished it last night. Although it was something of a rough start (or perhaps I'm just an impatient reader), it finally picked up about 2/3 of the way through, and was actually quite engaging by the end. If it had been that engaging all the way through it would have been an excellent book. As it was, I can only give it a rating of a "pretty good" book in clear conscience, but with the caveat that it was the writer's first novel.

The impression I got was that Gayle had a nice, solid ending, but didn't really have a beginning or middle to go with it, if you see what I mean. As for plot, there's almost zero -- a guy who's still heartbroken about being dumped spends the anniversary weekend of it three years later making a lot of phone calls, engaging in a lot of self-pity, acting like a massive slob around the house, and generally being pathetic, until he very suddenly grows a spine and goes through a series of rapid-fire relationship changes that conveniently turn into a happy ending for most of the cast. (Hope that doesn't spoil it for you!)

Basically, the first 2/3 of the book read like Gayle is stalling. There are a lot of anecdotes about the narrator's daily activities, his childhood, reminiscences about the girl who dumped him, a variety of other girls from his past, and his one male friend. There's a lot of bitching about his crummy apartment. And so on. There is foreshadowing and plot-building mixed in to all this, but a lot of it seems to just be put in to round it out from 20,000 words to 60,000 words so that you'll have an investment in the characters by the time you reach the end of the book.

Unfortunately, the time to get your reader invested in the book is "as close to the beginning as you can arrange it," not "just before the book ends," because only the most dedicated (or entertainment-starved) reader is likely to stick it out that long.

But, as I say, it was the author's first novel. The fact that it did get good by the end gives me hope that maybe his other books improve as he gets more experience. He's got something like five other books, including a new one due out later this year, and I expect I'll check them out when I get the chance to see if he manages in future to jump right to the good part and stay there for the course of the book.

Thanks, huskyteer! :)

-The Gneech
Tags: reading
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