Book Club Revisted Pick #1: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, by Peter Cameron
My librarian friend Amy, who I have mentioned many times on this blog as being awesome, and her friend Mike, who is also pretty awesome, took up the book Brideshead Revisited last year and tweeted about their experiences reading it. They called this Twitter book club "Book Club Revisited," although they continued to read more books that weren't, in fact, revisiting anything. Anywhosen, I'm happy to report that "Book Club Revisited" has two new members: me and Corey Whaley, who wrote a book I really love called Where Things Come Back. For our first book, Corey picked Peter Cameron's well-reviewed 2007 teen novel, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.
Cameron's book is about an eighteen-year-old New Yorker named James Sveck. James is supposed to go to Brown in the fall, but all he really wants is to buy an old house somewhere in the Midwest. James is the product of two self-absorbed, cliched New Yorkers, and he has a horrifyingly snobby older sister. James hates people his own age, dislikes most converstions, and the only person he's ever been able to connect to is his grandmother. Suffice it to say, he is not a particularly likable character.
This unlikability ended up being a turn-off for all four of us when we discussed the book via video chat last week. While we admitted to liking Cameron's writing and his representation of sexuality, none of us came away feeling any particular attachment to this novel. None of the characters felt completely worthy of our sympathy, and I had a problem with the way Cameron handled the absence of expected emotional beats throughout the story. That being said, participating in the book club was a lot of fun for me. We have agreed to keep it going, and in a few weeks, we'll be discussing the teen graphic novel, Anya's Ghost, which looks like it'll be good. I had to leave my library book club behind when I started grad school last August, so it's fun to be discussing books (or at least books that aren't assigned contemporary poetry) with other people again.
Note: I'm also participating in an ironic book club on the side this summer. A group of us Notre Dame MFAs will be reading and discussing 50 Shades of Grey. Which will either be a lot of fun or very slow torture. Stay tuned to find out which!