This Wednesday swung around faster than I can believe! I'm exhausted right now. I just returned from a most delightful book reading and signing and one of you will be the recipient of a lovely, signed, debut novel at some time in the near future.
Waiting on Wednesday is the creation of Jill over at Breaking the Spine and what a great creation it was. It gives us a chance to learn about great new stories we may not have otherwise.
This week, I have a confession to make. See the book noted above? (Come closer please so I can whisper this in your ear...) I'm not really waiting on it. I've read it. But this is certainly a book YOU should be waiting for. I happened to discover it when Simon and Schuster sent me an e-galley of the story. I finished it in short order. I'm a romance kinda girl and romance in some form, makes up a large part of what I read. I don't think I would have picked this book up ordinarily and I would have been the loser.
It's a timely story too. With the tragic shooting of the congresswoman and those unfortunate souls in Arizona, their story floated through my mind as I read Angry Young Man. It's the tale of the complex relationship of two brothers: Robert, the eldest and Alexander (Xan) the youngest--and the weirdest. Check out a bit of the excerpt from the first chapter:
THE SWEEPER AND THE STRIKERI want you to understand my brother. I don't need you to, so don't get all worked up over it or anything. Ultimately you can do what you like. But I would like for you to understand him.
As far as that goes, I'd like to understand him myself.
"What are you doing with those on?" I ask him when I walk into the room. He is just standing there, unoccupied as he often seems to be, in the small bedroom we still share. It's about three years after we should have stopped sharing a room, or much of anything else, but this is beyond our control. The those I am talking about are tinted glasses, kind of dark amber, which make him look something like a 1970s pimp. "They make you look like a pimp."
"Don't talk to me like that. You know I don't like that kind of talk. Anyway, they are glasses. I wear glasses, to be able to see, and you know that."
I do know that. "I didn't know that you wear pimp glasses, though. You wear them to see hookers, is that it? Can I have a shot?"
"Did I ask you to stop talking to me like that?"
"Like . . . stop it, Robert. I'm serious."
He is. He is very serious. My brother has a number of problems, one of them being me. I am a pain in his ass, and I know it. He is also very fortunate to have me, and he knows it.
Our combined age is thirty-five. I am one year older, and this room is not big enough for all this accumulation of guy, but it is the only room we have for the moment. There is another room here, and that belongs to Ma. It's a very close, warm, and intimate arrangement. It could drive you nuts.
"They're too dark, anyway," I tell him.
"They are for my sensitivity to light. The eye doctor prescribed them special for my sensitivity."
The more serious he gets about something, the stronger my urge to laugh. I realize this is not helpful, but oh, well.
"I don't see how glasses are supposed to stop you from crying every time you watch Titanic, Alexander."
"I do not—"
"You also do not have a sensitivity to light."
He pauses, composing his argument. "You are not a doctor."
"Point taken," I say, and pause to compose my counter-argument. My counterargument is a penetrating I-know-you-better smile. "Now, why the tints?"
Because I am me and he is him, surrender is inevitable. "They're for privacy."
"What kind of privacy?"
"I'm shading out my windows. You know? The eyes are the windows to the soul? Well, I am tired of people staring in, trying to see my soul. People look in and think they know you, think they have you. They steal pieces of you that way. So, I'm blocking out access to my soul windows."
I have to credit him this much—it's pretty effective shading. Because the lenses are nearly the exact light caramel color of his eyes, there is a subtle camouflage effect that seems almost like you can stare right through his eyes, but not into them. As if you were looking straight through to the back of his scary skull. Eerie, but effective.
I don't want to give the plot away, so I'll only say this, right from the beginning, you can't help but feel something terrible is going to happen. It makes you wonder about what's brewing under the surface of people--in the area that's hidden and often not understood; where very few people visit, in that dark spot within, where the logical part of us fears to tread.
My heart was pounding as I got to the last few pages of the book, dreading what I feared my be coming.
It's a short book at only 176 pages, but it's not short on poignancy, fear, regret and an odd kind of thrill. If you're up for it and you want to get a thoughtful grasp on how little control we have, even on the ones we think we know and love, read this book. In spite of the darkness, it's filled with hope.
Angry Young Man released yesterday, February 8, 2011.