Hurry Down Sunshine - I Just Don't Like Michael Greenberg
I'm not sure how to navigate this one - I didn't like the author and narrative voice, Michael Greenberg.
I didn't like him because he hit his girlfriend, Pat.
I didn't like him because he felt the need to propels this story to quasi-literary heights through allusions to such writers as James Joyce, who blamed himself for his daughter, Lucia's, mental illness.
I didn't like that the entire book wasn't at all about his poor daughter, 15 year old Sally, who one day fell into the void of manic depression and stayed there for an entire summer. No, it was about how he, Michael, reacted to the situation. How it impacted him. It details his efforts to understand her by taking her anti-psychotic medication to understand why she felt "packed in rubber." It's about his relationship to his mentally ill brother who harbours a long-standing grudge against him for being their mother's favorite.
It's about his landlord and friend - a failed writer and top notch mooch - oh and a cast of other crazy characters like a Hasidic Jew whose family believes his incessant praying and clearly troubled state is a sign of communion with God.
But, what about Sally? What about her? Who is she? She's been slow to learn at school, prone to outbursts and compulsive behavior. She's had problems for a while, only a crisis delivers her to the treatment she needs. We don't get a detailed sense of who she's been and what her life has been like.
Michael Greenberg wanted to write about the experience of a parent who's child falls away completely to a place where he cannot reach her or help her. His suffering, his devotion to her, his desire to understand, these are all real. But, the book is also about Sally and in a way she is strangely absent from this narrative.
Hurry Down Sunshine/ HarperCollins / 2008, HC (PB forthcoming this summer)
Posted by B.Kienapple at 12:22 PM