No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Monday, May 23, 2016

2016/28: Crazy Love You -- Lisa Unger

For Fatboy, she was lover, avenger, and friend. Once upon a time she was all those things for me as well. Somehow, somewhere along the line, for me the real Priss and the one on the page had kind of morphed into one. The truth was that the more I had of her in ink, the less I wanted or needed her in life. [loc. 208]
Ian is, by his own account, a successful comics writer graphic novelist. He's achieved fame through his semi-autobiographical series 'Fatboy and Priss', about an overweight teenager and his possibly-imaginary friend Priss. Three key facts about Priss: she protects and avenges Fatboy; nobody else can see her; she's based on Ian's best friend since childhood. But while Ian lives in a loft apartment in Tribeca, the 'real' Priss prefers to inhabit a series of squats.

Then Ian meets Meghan, and falls in love. Priss is unimpressed. She's not fond of change, and -- like her fictional counterpart -- she has a temper.

Ian, whose cult status allows him to indulge a fondness for recreational pharmaceuticals. Problem is, he sometimes finds the line between truth and fantasy blurring. In some ways that's a good thing: there are some traumatic events in Ian's past, including the murder of his younger sister and his mother's madness. Letting go of his past is important if Ian's relationship with Meghan is to be a success. Sometimes, though, the past comes back to haunt the present ...

Crazy Love You didn't quite hit the mark for me, though the prose is sharp and sparky, with occasional flashes of beauty. I wasn't engaged by Ian as a character, and I began to suspect that there was something odd about Priss very early in the novel. And there are a couple of episodes where I simply wasn't convinced by Ian's actions and their effects. At times the novel felt like a fictionalised account of therapy: actually, in a sense that's what it is. That said, the story unfolds tantalisingly, and very readably.

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