First of all, since I talked about the use of mixed media in the last book I read (Night Film, by Marisha Pessl), I feel like I need to comment on its use in ATDoaPTI. The narrator and protag stutters and lisps, but (and so?) he feels like he was born to be a world-class artist, expressing himself through drawings. His diary (the beginning at least) is heavily cartooned in a way that flows so well with the story. Alexie absolutely made the right choice there.
There are other ways the book is working for me, and that is the writing. Alexie slams some all the way out of the park. Take this, for instance:
But, the thing is, no matter how much time my thumbs and I spend with the curves of imaginary women, I am much more in love with the right angles of buildings.
When I was a baby, I’d crawl under my bed and snuggle into a corner to sleep. I just felt warm and safe leaning into two walls at the same time.
When I was eight, nine, and ten, I slept in my bedroom closet with the door closed. I only stopped doing that because my big sister, Mary told me that I was just trying to find my way back into my mother’s womb.
That ruined the whole closet thing.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against my mother’s womb. I was built there after all. So I have to say that I am pro-womb. But I have zero interest in moving back home, to to speak.
My sister is good at ruining things.
After high school, my sister just froze. Didn’t go to college. Didn’t get a job. Didn’t do anything. Kind of sad, I guess. But she is also beautiful and strong and funny. She is the prettiest and strongest and funniest person who ever spent twenty-three hours a day alone in a basement.
How do you not fall in love with that?! The voice, the tone, the round-about-way of talking about everything. I love how this book, the characters in it so far, they’re all defining themselves and their surroundings by what they aren’t. There is so much negative space, negative-definitions to dissect. And isn’t that the reality of so many young adults? Not-as-pretty-as, not-as-rich-as, not-as-much-of-a-mess-as… It’s so relational. The humor-as-deflection, the bait-and-switch… there is just so much here!
I love the older-than-his-years cynicism and the arrested development taking up residence next to each other. The way you get everything dysfunctional about his family, that he needs to seek comfort from the flippin’ walls, that his sister’s pain makes her lash out at her brother, the leveling that goes on from every direction.
All in this get-at-able package.
I hope this keeps up, because I am really diggin’ this funny-but-not-so-funny mess of a story.