Tuesday, November 15, 2011
The Grievers is a darkly comic coming of age novel for a generation that's still struggling to come of age.This Marc Schuster, I thought to myself, has a sense of humor.
Having just this afternoon finished my read of this slender book (due out on 5/1/12 from the Permanent Press), I feel the urgent need to correct myself. This Marc Schuster has a gigantic sense of humor. I kept trying to think of comparators as I read. The Big Chill meets Old School. A Separate Peace or Dead Poets Society, if either had been authored by Jon Stewart. Waiting for Alaska, except for adults, and with a different plot.
Honestly, I'm so bad at that sort of thing.
Here's the set-up. I don't think any of you have ever seen me place actual jacket copy front and center, but since I suspect that The Sublimely Funny Schuster wrote this copy, I just have to share it as is:
When Charley Schwartz learns that an old high school pal has killed himself, he agrees to help his alma mater organize a memorial service to honor his fallen comrade. Soon, however, devastation turns to disgust as Charley discovers that his friend's passing means less to the school than the bottom line. As the memorial service quickly degenerates into a fundraising fiasco, Charley must also deal with a host of other quandaries including a dead-end job as an anthropomorphic dollar sign, his best friend's imminent move to Maryland, an intervention with a drug-addled megalomaniac, and his own ongoing crusade to enforce the proper use of apostrophes among the proprietors of local dining establishments.....Yes. That's right. An anthropomorphic dollar sign. It has glitter, people. It sheds. Charley Schwartz hobbles around inside it, conducting this memorial-making business by phone. The phone? It too is a character in The Grievers. I'm now quoting from the book itself:
Through no fault of my own, my cell phone played the theme from The Jeffersons whenever I received an incoming call, so when Neil got back to me, the sweaty silence of my big, boxy costume was broken by the sound of a gospel choir singing about moving on up to the East Side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky.Seriously.
Marc was hoping I might be able to blurb his book, but as you can tell, I'm having too much fun quoting from it. I will stop for just a moment then, and conclude this blog post like this: The Grievers is a work of astute perception, high-octane imagination, and utterly supple prose. Raging cluelessness has never been this funny or, in the end, this compassionate.