Monday, June 4, 2012

My Little Blue Dress by Bruno Maddox

TITLE: My Little Blue Dress
AUTHOR: Bruno Maddox
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Viking Penguin/2001
GENRE: Adult Contemporary Fiction (I Guess? Satire?)
SOURCE: Local Library

Goodreads / Author's Website

You know those books that you really want to like? You read them and they're not really holding your attention, but they held such promise that you keep going, telling yourself no, I SHOULD like this book; it WILL get better. This was one of those books. I picked it up at the library because I loved the premise. It's supposedly a memoir written by a hundred year old woman who was born on the first day of the last century, but slowly you come to realize that she is, in fact, not writing it at all as the author doesn't seem to know much about history or life as a woman. It sounded like a brilliant satire of memoirs. Not so much. 

I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but I know that I expected to laugh more than I did. I was definitely hoping for a clever satire, but honestly I found the whole thing kind of dull. I didn't feel engaged throughout the story. It was really difficult to get into. The young girl narrator wasn't believable, but it also didn't strike me as particularly entertaining, just kind of annoying. 

It did pick up as the book went along. My favourite parts were when the "author" would put in notes to self along the way and forget to delete them. However, that did not happen nearly enough. Don't get me wrong, there were enjoyable sections of the book. The insane plot turns, like spending all of the war in a secret facility that didn't allow newspapers was genius and twentysomething author reflecting on his own life started out as amusing. I mean, the pieces of memoir interspersed with reflections on the modern era were marginally funny, but something about it just didn't grab me. 

The satire itself wasn't exactly biting. There is experimental content and the form is intriguing and there are twists that made me smile. Not everything about this book was painful. It definitely got better as it went along, with little bits of the truth filtering out. I enjoyed watching the author's slow descent into madness (and by author of course I mean the fictional author of the fictional memoir who also just happens to be named Bruno Maddox). I enjoyed the tongue in cheek meta-ness of plot lines (spoiler: such as the fictional Bruno Maddox naming a character in HIS book Bruno Maddox). I'm a sucker for all things meta, what can I say? It's why I picked it up in the first place. But other than that, there just wasn't that much that intrigued me. 

I'm glad I stuck through this book. I really hate putting books down once I've started, but it definitely wasn't my favourite. Not feeling for Bruno didn't help the matter. This review is all over the place which is actually kind of fitting for this particular book. I don't know how to describe this book other than saying that it's oddly experimental; I don't think there's much more that I can say.

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