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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: Lolito

LolitoLolito by Ben Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel I don't read enough contemporary fiction so I picked up this book, published just a few months ago, by the young author Ben Brooks. What I found was a mixed bag.

As the title suggests, Lolito is about an underaged teen who gets into a relationship with an older woman. Etgar is 15, totally screwed up, suffers panic attacks, and already a binge drinker. When his girlfriend cheats on him he tips over the edge. In his loneliness he starts chatting to strangers on the Internet and ends up in a liaison with a 49 year-old mother and teacher.

Etgar's emotional rollercoaster is vividly drawn but it's hard to sympathize with him because he doesn't seem real. The author's MFA style of overwriting makes Etgar sounds like a literary construction, with phrases like "shops the colour of old fax machines" and "eyes like glasses of red wine." Does a 15 year-old talk like that? Does ANYONE talk like that? Certainly not a teenager who spends most of his time drunk in front of the television.

Also, the narrative gets a bit unbelievable. Etgar's fake ID works without question everywhere, even in posh hotels, and there's an unrealistic scene where he's being questioned by the police and they let him run away without even trying to stop him.

What really frustrated me about this novel is that I feel the author could do much better. Some passages are excellent, the minor characters are well drawn, and the concept has loads of potential, especially with "cougars" being so trendy now. Brooks is an author to watch, but I think he might need a few years for his style to mature.

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1 comment:

  1. You're right, no one talks like that. Sounds like it missed the mark.


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