Saturday, April 12, 2014

Eleanor Rigby

Eleanor RigbyEleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. The beginning started off with promise--I even copied several lines into my journal I liked them so much:

"Like anybody, I wanted to find out if my life was ever going to make sense, or maybe even feel like a story..."

"I decided that instead of demanding certainty from life, I now wanted peace. No more trying to control everything--it was now time to go with the flow."

Coupland sets up what I thought was going to be an introspective character study on our protagonist, Liz, and beyond that, a study on lonely people. What does it mean to be lonely versus just alone? Why is loneliness viewed negatively?

Then things just got weird. The long lost adult son I could handle--Jeremy was another interesting character, another perspective on loneliness and connection, what makes a family and how to enjoy a rough life. But instead of writing an honest story, and focusing on funny and slightly strange characters, Coupland went the route of bizarre plot devices. A trip to Vienna, a German prison, a serendipitous reunion--why do we need these things? I liked Liz and her thoughts. I liked Liz's conversations with Jeremy (until those got weird as well). I liked reading about all the lonely people.

All in all, I'm glad I read Eleanor Rigby, because I can appreciate it within the scope of Coupland's works, but I don't recommend it for the casual reader--try Player One instead, a very different novel in terms of what happens, but similar in its themes.

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