Thursday, March 6, 2008

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Black Swan Green has to be one of the funnest books I've read in years. Take a modern day adventure tale and mix it with a kid who's most of us as we were at 12 or 13 and you get a painstakingly hilarious reminder of all the moments we've chosen to forget in adulthood. David Mitchell has created the character of Jason Taylor in his newest(2006) book. He's 13, he lives in a sleepy small town, and suffers from a ghost of a stutter. I'm not saying that it's a faint stutter. I like to think of it more as a goblin or spirit that seems to have a mind of its own. Let's just say that since so few of us were emotionally and physically perfect in those early teenage years, Jason Taylor will feel so familiar (whether you stuttered or not).

What Mitchell does in this novel is link 13 short stories together into a broad expanse of a year to cover every detail of his character's life. Here's the zinger. There are countless books about adolescence, but it's as if Mitchell sat down at that age and took notes. Detailed notes. Notes about what it felt like, what it sounded like, and what it looked like in 1982 before he grew up and forgot it all. It's what's missing in so many nostalgic novels; the feeling behind it.

I remember living as a kid in a section of town with tight housing. Any chance I got I was climbing houses and running over rooftops, spanning entire neighborhoods in a day. It's this type of trouble that occurs in Black Swan Green. It's outdoor trouble mostly, allowing the reader to journey with Jason Taylor unconfined by tight prose. Believe me, read this book and you'll smile in a way you haven't in say oh, however many years it was since you were 13.

1 comment:

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