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madbkwm

madbkwm

Downtown Owl - Chuck Klosterman I enjoyed it. Klosterman gets a bit annoying at times with his nicknames (why does everyone in town have one? Really? And how come some of them get their nicknames as kids and others as adults? What were they called before they were christianed with the nickname?) and all of his early 80s references (this was written in 2008, and he was clearly in a retrospective and nostalgic mood), but overall the prose is witty, compelling and worthwhile.

The book follows three main characters (Mitch the slighly neurotic 17 year old, Horace the 73 year old farmer, and Julia the newest member of town and 23 year old history teacher). The choice of these three worked well to show the reader the perspective of three very different groups in town: the youth, the older folks, and the middle adult. All three face questions about their own perceptions, happiness, and attempts at normality throughout the course of the novel. There was nothing especially deep or profound, just a few quotable moments:

"Do we all know what sarcasm is? Sarcasm is when you tell someone the truth by lying on purpose."

"If people only realized that you don't need someone else to invent your happiness, situations like Tina McAndrews wouldn't happen."

"'I need to change my ways,' said Julia. 'I can't keep doing these things. I can't keep living like this.' Like all self-destructive creatures, she completely meant these words, but only while she spoke them."

"Julia looked at the ashtray that say upon the glass coffee table and at the roach that remained from the stoning; perhaps one eighth of an inch was still unsmoked. 'There are two kinds of people in this world,' she said aloud. Sometimes she talked to herself when she was high; she imagined that her friends from college could watch her actions on a hidden camera. She did not audibly speak the rest of the platitutde, but the two kinds of people Julia split the world into were as follows: People who said, 'This joint is cashed,' and people who said, 'Well, let me try.' Julia placed herself in the second category, although she wondered if that mader her an optimist or a pothead. The tip of her left thumb blistered and charred white, just like old times."

Amazingly, all the characters are fairly likeable; we even get two chapers (oddly) from the perspective of the two biggest villians in the book: Laidlaw and Cubby Candy. Certainly the point of the novel seems to be that none of us are really capable of figuring out what is going on inside another's head, certainly worth reading.