Friday, August 1, 2008

A Boy of Good Breeding by Miriam Toews

I got bogged down about three quarters of the way through this book, and almost didn't finish it. And then I was surprised by the rapidity with which everything in the book was wrapped up. It seemed to take a very long time to get to the end, but I may have been reading too many other books at the same time. That happens sometimes.
A Boy of Good Breeding is filled with some of the oddest characters you can imagine coming across, but that makes it all the more realistic. The world is filled with strange people, and many of them seem to live in Algren, Canada's smallest town. The mayor himself is off in a way that is difficult to define, but stems from the fact that he is obsessed with making sure that his town remains the smallest, no matter what it takes. He also believes that his father is the prime minister of Canada, though only his mother's dying ramblings back up that idea. Mayor Hosea Funk honestly made me uncomfortable. I was embarrassed for him throughout the whole book.
The other main characters are much more likable, though no less odd. Knute is a twenty-something mother of Summer Feelin', a four-year-old girl who expresses her joy in life by flapping her arms. This habit is endearing, if a little worrisome. But really, who of us doesn't want to just explode with joy sometimes? That seems to be the feeling that Summer Feelin' embodies with her joyous flapping. Knute has come back home to Algren, at about the same time that Summer Feelin's father, Max, returns. Like the rest of the book, I felt like Knute and Max's relationship took a tremendously long time to develop, only to be very quickly wrapped up in the end.
I think that what bothered me about the book was its pacing. It was really very slow, and then it was a very quick happy ending wrap-up at the end. The characters were really interesting, but the way the story moved along made it difficult for me to invest myself in the book the way it perhaps deserved.

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