24 April 2010

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud (Ben Sherwood)

Ugh, this book was AMERICAN. Overly sentimental and unnecessarily violent. With the kind of detail which you know the author has included because they think it gives their work increased depth when really it only acts to make the book longer. Obviously, if you are Dickens, this is important, as you are being paid by the word. However, Dickens had something to say with every one of those words. The superfluous detail in this story was the only thing retaining the integrity of the physical concept of 'the book'. The plot and characters were rendered irrelevant through the extreme use of hyperbolic emotional prose which only ever serves to alienate rather than draw the reader in. Your response is to say "Oh for God's sake, pull yourself together" rather than feel any sort of empathy.

Oh! The family are home! I await their invitation to come down to eat with trepidatious excitement.

And... alas. No invitation has been shouted from below.

Well, I'm not going down to find something to eat. I'll be fine. I have a bottle of water.

If the above interlude confuses you, refer to the post below.

Sherwood's novel tells the story of Charlie St. Cloud, who, whilst driving his mother's car when he was just a kid, inadvertently crashes and his younger brother is killed. Fast forward a few years and now Charlie is a gravedigger. Who can talk to dead people. He meets a woman named Tess who is straight out of a Mills and Boon. A bad Mills and Boon. One of the ones where the woman is irascible and selfish. They... talk and grow fond of each other. From here the book continues to bore the reader until the final, glorious denouement where we get to hear what sort of dog he's going to have in his future life. (A beagle. Bad choice. They're hard to train Charlie.)

The dialogue is plodding at best and I skipped many of the conversations because it was either that or risk becoming so tense that my neck veins would have ruptured. Of course, this meant I was often slightly confused as to what was happening. No matter. Confusion is the lesser of two evils when the other is to be so consummately acquainted with every nuance of Sherwood's writing that there is no conceivable way to escape from the knowledge that you are reading something obscenely pedestrian.

Apparently they are making a film of this book with Zac Efron as Charlie. Which is just perfect. Blocks of concrete deserve wooden rods to realise their full potential.

Rating: 3/10.
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