Monday, January 14, 2008

Maynard & Jennica by Rudolph Delson

What an odd little birdie, this one. Two very odd people come together in an unlikely way and the result is a sweet but strange love story. Maynard is a man out of time; he dresses like a dandy from the 30's, straw boater and all, with very esoteric tastes and a background as a failed pianist and failed film maker (he reminds me of who Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close's Oskar Schell from might grow up to become if Oskar weren't so cool). Jennica is obsessed with getting to the next part of her life while determinedly overlooking her life in the present. The story is told by about 30 different people: Maynard & Jennica, obviously, but also friends, colleagues, subway thugs, even a macaw. It's charming but I think it also verges on being a bit precious, esp. as we get to the post-9/11 point where the story meanders and finishes. There are a number of admirable things to be said for M & J, but it also gets dangerously close to a "gosh, aren't I clever"-ness that stopped me short of really enjoying it. I think Delson's got the goods and I hope this admirable debut is a sign of even better work to come.

4 comments:

Fussy Schlock Washer said...

I was surprised to find myself gobbling up this book in two days this weekend. I don't typically enjoy love stories; I like something extraordinary to happen-- zombies, time travel, talking dogs, etc. But these two characters are so singular that I'll be thinking about them--especially Maynard-- for a long time. The choppy storytelling kept my mind from wandering.

I agree with your assessment that it can feel a little too clever at times, and I felt like the ending didn't fit the narrative style the author had established up to then, so I'm feeling a little dissatisfied about that. But overall, a really stellar debut. Just curious, how old is this author?

Reed Next said...

Thanks Fussy. I thought you'd enjoy it. It's a fun story and the ever-changing narrator moved the story along. So glad you gobbled.

Reed Next said...

Oh, by the way, according to Wikipedia, he was born in 1975.

Fussy Sock Washer said...

He's in wikipedia already? Yeesh. Must have put that in himself. Have you established a Wiki Bio for yourself, Reed Next?