Review of Honeymooners by Chuck Kinder
I want to be nice to Chuck Kinder. I want to give him a great review, because he is from West Virginia. Although I was not born in West Virginia, I grew up there, and I have had to deal with the most astonishingly ignorant comments from people who either have no idea that West Virginia is actually separate from Virginia ( What part of Virginia did you say you were from? The part that became a state in 1863 ), or who think it is a land peopled solely by unlettered inbreds of the Deliverance ilk (by the way, Deliverance was set in Georgia , and the people in the movie were actors ).
Okay, so clearly I'm a little defensive about the West Virginia thing, and I wanted to praise my homeboy Chuck Kinder as a fantastic writer who has penned an amazing book. And yet, although I don't think Kinder is a bad writer--as a matter of fact, he is a good writer--I do not, in fact, think that he has penned an amazing book, or even a very good one. It is not so much a bad book, either, as an aggressively pointless one.
Honeymooners is the tale of friends Ralph Crawford and Jim Stark, two intelligent yet self-defeating writers who are unlikely to achieve their big dreams of being star novelists, as they have made a second career of doing inadvisable quantities of recreational drugs, screwing around on their spouses, wandering off aimlessly, running out on restaurant checks, and blathering, blathering, blathering about all the great stuff they are going to do as soon as the world stops holding them back. Arghhh. I don't feel I need to tell you more; I am sure you know people just like this and probably have restraining orders against them.
What initially drew me to this book was the deadpan hilarity of the cover (in retrospect, the best part of the book), backed up by approving cover blurbs by such renowned literary figures as Michael Chabon, Richard Ford, Scott Turow and Larry McMurtry, but I should have taken warning from those same blurbs: Ford, for example, invokes the likes of Kerouac, Ken Kesey and even R. Crumb. The term 'iconoclast' is used, with reverence. Sigh. I have read Kerouac, Kesey and Crumb (now there's a nice, alliterative law firm for you), and they seem to enjoy writing about the pointless pursuits of drug-addled hedonists (by turns, nihilists), so, hey, if that's what you're into, this book fits right in. It also occurred to me that the blurbists are all known for writing "manly man" fiction, so maybe that's the problem--maybe I just don't have the right plumbing to enjoy this stuff. And here I was thinking a pointless, plotless, train wreck of a book with unlikable characters doing nothing worthwhile or even remotely interesting wouldn't appeal to anyone , regardless of gender.
Sorry, Chuck. At least I don't think it's because you're from West Virginia, if that's any consolation.
Other book reviews by me:
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