Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: "The Convalescent" by Jessica Anthony

It’s funny that just recently I read what may be the best novel McSweeny’s has published, that a little later I would read what might be their worst one. John Sayles A Moment in the Sun was an odd choice to be published by a company that specializes in off-kilter works, but it is easily a high point for them that represents a change in direction to present books that have the potential for a wider audience by authors who do not have as big of a name. But this book, The Convalescent by Jessica Anthony, is truly a low point for the company. It is not offensive bad, like Noughties (nothing may top that), but it is about as far from good as you can get without ending up in the badlands. If you could put all your clichéd notions of what a company like McSweeny’s is like at its most arrogant, exclusive and pompous, this is the book that would be it’s cornerstone. It really tells two different stories that are thrown together so haphazardly that they seem stuck together by Elmer’s Glue. One story is told from the perspective of Rovar Pfliegman, a short, ugly Hungarian man who owns a butcher shop that he runs out of an old bus. He suffers from many heath issues that just keep getting worse as time goes on, and a crippling attraction to his doctors, knowing he is too repulsive to win their hearts. The other story concerns a lost Hungarian tribe where Rovar gets his namesake, famous equally for leg fighting and a mystical kinship with losing. He is the last of this tribe, and seems to be holding on to that tradition, whether he likes it or not. None of this works, as a whole or separately. Even when his ailments require him to be wrapped up like a mummy or lose his skin, this book rings false. Luckily this book is a few years old, and McSweeny’s seems to be publishing better books than this nowadays.
Rating: 2/5

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