Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ostrich by Matt Greene

Alex is working hard to figure things out: Are his parents divorcing? What happened to his hamster? Is his dad cheating? Where do you start when measuring your penis length?

Complicating matters for Alex are the fact he's ill (brain tumor, but the details are left for us to muddle out) and simultaneously intellectually precocious while emotionally immature.

While Alex is a middle-schooler, there are mature situations in this book and the much of its comedy is found in Alex's naivety, which requires the perspective of an older reader to comprehend. I guess what I'm saying, is that I think the book is written for adults. Seriously: not a book for middle-schoolers, despite the colorful cover and main character's age.

The writing style is unusual - sometimes it's straight narrative, sometimes more stream-of-consciousness, occasionally in untranslated non-English (French, post-seizure gibberish), and often a bit disjointed. Like Alex's perspective.

The spelling is "creative" - when Alex mis-hears (or is led astray by his jokester father), things are spelled out as he believes them to be. The book title is actually part of this: "I already know what it's like to feel ostrichized, which is a better word for excluded (because ostriches can't fly, so they often feel left out)." (quote from page 16)   Click to see a true definition of ostracize from Merriam Webster.

I really enjoyed this book, but the end came as a bit of a surprise to me. I could even get on a soapbox and say it was unsatisfactory, but at the same time that may be what the author intended.

(Sorry if this review gets you excited and then you can't locate this book: from what I can tell, this book hasn't been released in the US and may not be in the near future. Every review I see online - including this one - came from reviewers' reading advance readers copies, and the Fall 2013 publication date seems to have been cancelled. On a positive note - apparently the ARCs are not hard to come by!)

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