Thursday, February 18, 2010

An incredible book about a human with Mad Cow Disease and even weirder things

 I think Going Bovine is kind of a genius book.  I'm glad it won the Printz Award.  It had a truly incredible author's note at the beginning, and at the end, I laughed, I cried, I argued with it and myself as a reader and author.  Also, there's a Norse god in disguise as a lawn gnome.  Seriously.

Some spoilers ahead.

I mean, how many books have made me that angry at the end by pulling that It-Was-All-a-Dream trick and then left me to argue three different ways about it.  I was steaming mad that the author would pull that stupid (and I thought outlawed) trope, invalidating all of the lengthy experiences and trials and tribulations and deaths of characters I cried over, etc.

Now, now, the shoulder angel chided, the author made sure you knew there was at least a 50-50 chance the end was going to be the dream schtick.

But, the shoulder devil grumped, how could you waste those crazy awesome things like the Great Tremolo, and those smoothie-and-bowling-loving cult members who make up the standardized tests, the Buddha Burger restaurant, the snow-globe conspiracy, the physics, and the time-warping musicians with their song about all the words for snow?!  Seriously, how can you invalidate all that?! 

But you did know it was a possibility all along, and there were all those ambiguous hints you ignored by sheer force of will, the shoulder angel reminded me.  And its not like Dulcie the sort-of angel was plausible, the shoulder angel sniffed.

I just didn't want the bedside goodbyes his family said to be real.  I wanted there to be a way for him to live and for them to change.  I wanted the hope to be real.

He was doomed from the beginning, and you knew it, the angel says gently.

But it could have been fantasy!  It could have been!

It was in the fiction section, not the fantasy section.

I wanted the fantasty parts to be real!  It was so dreamlike, I thought it was magical realism-related.

Oooh, good try.  Fancy Words.  You knew from the beginning.

Shut up.  I cried when XXX died.  I cried a lot!  I cried because I thought he really died.  In reality.  How could the author make me cry and then make it not real?  And then really kill XXX in reality.

In the reality of the book, you mean?  You remember how this is fiction, right?  Even if the character died in the real world of the book, none of it's real anyway.  What right do you have to get mad?

That is a very good point, and I kind of hate you for making it.  

Smug silence.

Brooding grumbles.

I guess I just wanted my unlikely happy ending.

I'm still not sure if I'm happy that I didn't get it.  But I'm kind of in awe of a book (and author) that makes me fight this hard with myself.  Also, I think I really need to read Don Quixote.

Have you read Going Bovine?  Thoughts?  If you're not sure if you want to read it, I recommend that you read that author's note.  If, by the end of that, you're not interested (and laughing), then it's probably not for you.  But I hope it is, 'cause I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.

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