Friday, February 14, 2014

The Biology of Luck by Jacob M Appel ***

A one-sided love story in NYC. The Biology of Luck by Jacob M Appel is one of those book that forces you to consider the structure, even before the characters and the plot. The enclosed discussion guide admits as much with
How important do you think the book-within-a-book structure is to the overall book, and to your enjoyment or frustration as a reader? Can you think of structural comparisons from film, music, or art?
 At the beginning the structure is interesting, with chapters alternating between Larry Bloom's day as a NYC tour guide and chapters from Bloom's book about Starshine, the target of his love fantasies. At the start, this just creepy as he write about other boyfriends and sex life, but eventually it just casts a fog of sad fantasy over Larry Bloom and makes it hard to care about him.

But do not despair, Appel (telling Larry's story) and Bloom (telling Starshine's story) deliver an interlocking ensemble cast of NYC characters from Starshine's super Bone whose response to complaints about sex  noise from her apartment is to remove her noisy springs and install a waterbed to Larry's mentor whose life is dedicated to writing the perfect sentence. Ultimately this group of strange characters lost in the city keeps the story moving and interesting.

However, all good things ... lead to the final discussion guide question [SPOILER]
Does that open-ended mode work for you?
Here again we have a Lady or the Tiger story. Since Frank Stockton's 1882 story, authors with literary pretensions or lack of conviction to conclude their stories or something else, have felt justified to end storyies without a resolutions. This is another one and I hate them all. If I wanted ambiguity, I'd live life, not read novels.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on January 2, 2014. I received the book January 4, 2014.

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