Sunday, August 12, 2012
YUVI ZALKOW WEEK: DAY 3
"Let me just warn you," I said to my mom after she professed a desire to not only read Yuvi Zalkow's book A BRILLIANT NOVEL IN THE WORKS, but also to attend his reading at Powell's this Thursday. And then I brushed on some of the more risque elements of the book, things like ass cutting and spanking.
"Okay," my mom said, undeterred. I felt satisfied with this, because I'd given her a proper warning but I didn't sway her against reading it. That's what I'd like to do for you, too: give you a proper warning about the adult content but not to hit it so heavily that you no longer feel like giving the book a try.
There are scenes involving razor blades, restraints and harnesses. These scenes serve a purpose and are not included for gratuitous entertainment. This is a character-driven novel and his predilections tell us a lot about our main character and his desires, as well as his shame.
At the core of A BRILLIANT NOVEL IN THE WORKS is a sweetness, which beautifully counteracts the aforementioned sauciness. Our hero views himself as a bumbling schmuck who can never quite get things right, but he's always trying to do the right thing. His heart is always in the right place. He cares about others a lot. He wants to please everyone, to satisfy everyone. He wants to do good, and he tries really hard. It's a very sweet journey, watching him try to please his wife, editor, brother-in-law, dead parents, strangers, and himself. Our hero is extremely self-aware and he knows whenever he's veering off track; watching him try to reel himself back in while simultaneously hating himself for getting so far off is heartbreaking and hilarious and wonderful.
I don't want to give too much of the book away because I want you all to experience it for yourselves, but I do want you to know that the character Yuvi in this book is so lovely and lovable, and here are a few reasons why:
1.) When his bed feels too big and lonely, he fills half of it with pots and pans and sleeps next to the kitchenware.
2.) He's had more therapists than lovers.
3.) He coins the term "fauxvilist" -- as in faux novelist, as in someone who's writing a novel and it's not going so well, as in anyone who's ever worked on a novel.
This isn't your mother's neurotic Jew novel, but if your mother can get past the cutting and spanking, she'll still fall in love. This is a terrifically tender and colossally clever and fully funny book.