November 24th, 2009


Going Bovine

My constant advice to all students of writing has always been to read, read, read. Time being the unyielding thing it is, I've also noticed that the more I write, the less I've been reading myself. There's something wrong with that. So I've been making a concerted effort to read more, fueled in part by a great influx recently of books I really, really want to read.

Many of them are pleasant, some of them have been remarkable (and I'll tell you about them later). But the one I read last weekend, which absolutely blew my socks off, was Libba Bray's masterful YA, Going Bovine.

It's remarkable. The voice of the young male protagonist is completely convincing--funny, angry, totally early 21st Century without being mired in contemporary teen-speak. Cameron is a little like a 21st century, less whiny, and much funnier Holden Caulfield. I found him frustrating, endearing, and so very real it was hard to believe he exists only as long as I'm reading about him. His friends include a Mexican dwarf and a talking lawn gnome who claims to be Baldur the Beautiful and hates having his picture taken. Oh, and a punk angel with torn fishnets. The plot careens between American road-movie, epic fantasy, satire, and problem novel, pretty much without stopping for breath, following an emotional logic that is utterly compelling and kept me turning pages when by all rights I should have been asleep.

And if I get any more specific than that, I'll so spoil the ride.

I laughed a lot while reading this book. And I cried, hard, when I was finishing it. Which I almost never do--just ask Ellen. And I went right to my computer (as soon as I'd blown my nose) and wrote Libba a fan letter.