Thursday, October 21, 2010

Citrus County

by John Brandon

The review I read of this book made it sound interesting and horrible at the same time, maybe like looking at photos of disasters or gross medical conditions. In this case, the "conditions" from which the characters suffer are psychological: extreme narcissism, emotional retardation, etc. Nothing really unusual, actually, in 21st century America, but turned up to 11. Oh, yes, people are monsters and do horrible things, but they're just slightly worse or a little less inhibited than the rest of us — oh, but the delicious thrill for us normal folk to peer into the dark, dead hearts of inhumane creatures! In some ways it reminded me of the creepy ending of the 2001 French movie Fat Girl, directed by Catherine Breillat, and any number of Todd Solondz films, as well as at least one other book I've read whose title escapes me at the moment.... But this book is actually not so bad to read, I guess, since I got through the whole thing rather quickly. Still, it can be somewhat draining to have to deal with The Sociopath Next Door. (That being the title of a nonfiction book that's quite interesting and disturbing itself. When you read it, who among your friends and family will you recognize?)

McSweeney's is the future of book publishing, by the way. I keep reading all this chicken little crap about how physical books will disappear soon, but no e-book will ever replace the tactile experience of reading books. So if a publisher wants to survive the so-called e-book revolution, they ought to be making books like this one, artfully constructed and sensual. The cover of Citrus County actually has textural elements incorporated in its design. You'll never get that on your Kindle.

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