Sunday, July 15, 2007

This Book Will Save Your Life (A M Homes)

This Book Will Save Your Life

Richard Novak, is middle-aged, retired, reclusive, divorced and has barely seen his now teenaged son. His nutritionist feeds him on faddy foods and his cleaner keeps his house neat. While on his treadmill watching his financial dealings he suffers excruciating pain and ends up in hospital. On the way back he inexplicably stops at a donut shop (his nutritionist doesn’t approve of sugars and fats) and gets chatting to immigrant Anhil. From then on, he starts interacting with other humans again and finding a sense of community in LA. It’s a place where once famous actors and screenwriters are in hiding while everyone else – including the man surveying the sinkhole in Richard’s lawn – is waiting to be discovered. Richard finds himself reluctantly famous for rescuing a horse from the sinkhole and a kidnapped girl from a car boot and adopting a homeless dog.

While trying to heal himself he also rescues people from domestic tragedies e.g. Cynthia is an abused housewife. Human contact and caring is the key, not expensive therapy. He must also deal with the nearly adult son he has rarely seen after his ex-wife moved to NY and cope with his son’s anger at a father who was “never there”. The doctor who refers him to the therapy turns out to be a fraud, making you wonder how much of the therapies are frauds. How much of the problem in USA is that people lack a sense of community? They need to care for others and be cared for by others instead of paying large sums of money to get someone listen to them or going on retreats. Anhil sums it up when he says that Americans are busy trying other people’s spiritual traditions to make up for their own lack.

It’s amusing, it deals with the therapy culture and superficiality of LA and of the real people who also find themselves living there, either waiting to be “discovered”, in hiding or simply unable to reach out and make contact with other humans. It moves along at a fair pace with Richard often carried along by events, rather than always controlling his own destiny. It’s the sort of book you can read in one day, but despite being enjoyable, it is transient and not particularly memorable, let alone life-changing, a bit like the donuts on the cover – once consumed, they are gone.

The previous A M Homes book I read was the very disturbing The End of Alice about a 19 year old girl who corresponds with a jailed paedophile. The paedophile describes his disturbed mother's abuse of him when he was young (using his arm as a living dildo) and his abuse of young girls. Alice seduces a pre-teen boy. All very, very disturbing.