Friday, June 19, 2009
You know how sometimes a movie trailer can make a movie look funny and unique, but then you go see it at the theater and you realize that all the best bits were in the trailer and the rest of the movie is a big disappointment? This book is like that. I read several reviews (like this one) that made the book sound great, but it turns out that in between the funny events described in the review are just long boring parts where nothing happens.
Dumbfounded is Matt Rothschild’s memoir of his offbeat adolescence in Manhatten in the 1980’s. It’s a fish out of water story: a Jewish kid in a WASP enclave, a gay kid surrounded by macho private school jocks, a young lonely boy raised by elderly eccentric grandparents. But Rothschild can’t sustain the momentum necessary to make it all work as a book, and he has to resort to filler. He also includes episodes of pathos (an unpleasant reunion with his flighty socialite mother) that try too hard to evoke a certain response from the reader. “Oh, now we are supposed to feel sorry for him.” I felt a little manipulated.
Some of his stuff isn’t bad, though; I think Rothschild’s story would have made a funny article for the New Yorker (or a good movie trailer).
(Book 23, 2009)