How to Carbonate a Curmudgeon
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AJ Fikry is a curmudgeon and a bibliophile. His bad humor is due to the untimely death of his wife, with whom he was the co-owner of a bookstore, Island Books. His life turns around when a child (Maya) is abandoned in his shop and when a new publisher’s rep (Amelia) walks into his store and his life.
The book is often very charming such as when he gives Maya a “not-christening party” (since he is “neither Christian nor particularly religious”) and his feelings are thus described, “AJ watches Maya in her pink party dress, and he feels a vaguely familiar, slightly intolerable bubbling inside of him. He wants to laugh out loud or punch a wall. He feels drunk or at least carbonated. Insane. At first, he thinks this is happiness, but then determines it’s love…And then, despite the fact that AJ does not believe in God, he closes his eyes and thanks whomever, the higher power, with all his porcupine heart.”
If you like that quote, you will like the book. Set in a bookstore, it “name drops” lots of books and stories from Little Pea, and The Monster at the End of This Book to The Tell-Tale Heart, and What We Talk About When We Talk about Love. I loved this. Plus, each chapter starts with some book or story title and then gives AJ’s take on it as it pertains to lessons he wants Maya to learn. These opening remarks also give a clue as to the topic of the coming chapter.
In this manner AJ talks about Irwin Shaw’s 1939 work, The Girls in Their Summer Dresses. AJ says, “Man watches women besides his wife. The wife doesn’t approve. Lovely twist, more like a turn, at the end. You’re a good reader, and you’ll probably see it coming. (Is a twist less satisfying if you know it’s coming? Is a twist that you can’t predict symptomatic of bad construction? These are things to consider when writing.)”
I am trying to answer those questions as I missed all three twists that appeared in this book.
In closing, here is Island Books’ motto: No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World. Lovely concept and very fitting for the charming world created in this book.
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