The lovely Milk and Cake loaned me (with the help of the US Postal Service), her advance reader's copy of John Dufresne's new novel Requiem, Mass (2008), because good readers need to stick together.
This book initially seems like one that we've seen a million times before -- the narrator had a troubled, and yet hilarious, youth growing up in a crazy family that ultimately loved one another even though they were falling apart. Dufresne likes to play the "is it a memoir or is it fiction" game and so the narrator, naturally, is also the author of the book. But is the author the narrator? And does it matter?
A nice balance to the childhood memories in this book is a peek at the narrator's present day life. I actually liked these sections a little better than the crazy family stuff -- in them the narrator seemed more real, and less like an entertainer trying to distance himself from his childhood by making fun of it. Of course, the childhood sections are also very readable and often quite funny -- but without the present day action to temper them, the book would be exhausting and a little too light.
I liked this book overall (except for the ending which I liked, but felt was a little forced). And if you are a fan of the crazy childhood memoir/fiction genre, I don't think you will be disappointed.
[Anyone want to have this copy? I'd like to keep the loaning system going...]