Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

As I’ve mentioned previously, a lot of new literature leaves me cold. I approach new authors with a hint of trepidation. I’ve been disappointed too many times. But I yearn for new, exciting writing. Fresh voices. Fresh stories. So I always come back for more. A workmate, who I’ve shared a lot of sandwiches and Chinese food with this year, recommended David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green. Why not, I figured? It’s always good to find a new person to recommend books. And I loved it. Black Swan is an awesome coming of age story. Set in England in the mid-80s, the book follows a stuttering 13 year old, Jason Taylor as he navigates the middle school years. Jayce is a kid who so desperately wants to fit in and to be liked, even though he clearly recognizes he doesn’t share the same values of his classmates, whose approval he so desperately seeks. Given his disabling stutter and his secret love of poetry, there’s no question the coming years are going to be tough. The book hits all the right chords. Beautifully written. Breezy, fun, melancholy, and deep. The book contains a lot of fragmented incidents that take place over a year, yet they all tie up in a resplendently satisfying way at the end. I also love Jason’s relationship to his parents. It’s spot on for a 13 year old. Clearly his parents are having troubles, possibly heading for the big D, but all the melodramas in his own life, blind him to the problems at home. Too good.

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