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Beautiful Children: A Novel Paperback – January 13, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Reading this book brought to mind a number of titles that do similar things much better. Those looking for a much stronger nerd character ala Bix should read Junot Diaz's Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, in which an irresistible character is conjured with a lot of verve and warmth. For a multi-layered, multi-character exploration of a dissolute city, I'd highly recommend Bruce Wagner's I'm Losing You, which tempers pathos with a dark humor and also a sense of compassion, and has a lot more depth than this novel. On that note, also Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion--you get the layers and points of view in the context of characters who are so real that it hurts.
Bock's story follows two alternating timelines, predominantly in an uncertain present with an undefined future as backdrop. In the novel's present, a single night marked by chapter headings showing the evening's passage of time, a hyperactive, disaffected, and distinctly unlikable twelve-year-old named Newell Ewing cavorts through Las Vegas in the company of a bizarrely codependent older boy named Kenny, an insecure, aspiring comic book artist.Read more ›
Bock made me dizzy. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy multiple points of view and don't mind moments of confusion, but Bock drained me. One page of text in particular jumped into the heads of no less than four characters. It wasn't difficult to follow, but left me disconnected with everyone involved.
The one true sparkle of the novel was Bock's ability to describe the pain and aimlessness of Newell's parents. He got me there, reached me. For that, I believe Bock can deliver the goods with a different story.
I also thought his use of punctuation and sentence structure was puzzling. I realize it's his art and he deserves the freedom to flow without the restraints of accepted style. It didn't bother me, but if that sort of thing bugs you, don't read this book.
In the end, nothing really happened. The characters were interesting, but they didn't do anything. If he had condensed his 432 pages into 150 and then followed with story of interaction and consequence, Bock would have a winner.
This is a very difficult book to get though and connect with. There are some great scenes but it never really comes together. There are many characters and plot lines (too many really) and the story of the central character, Newell, a missing 12 year-old, isn't enough to hold it together. It feels like the author over reached and tried to do too much. The result is some great scenes but an overall concoction that's not quite right.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I first read this book in 2008 and was captivated by it. It was weird at first -- I wasn't used to the various narrators and jumping from story to story but I'm glad I stuck with... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Taylor Tracy
Do you recall that famous Nietzsche chestnut - "And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you"? Read morePublished 7 months ago by Pop Bop
I don't know how anyone can recommend this book. It was trashy with no redeeming qualities. I am amazed at how some books get to be "best sellers".Published on December 14, 2013 by LINDA CLAYTON
I came across this book after reading a review Charles Bock wrote that served as a retrospective of the emergence of cartoons designed for an adult audience. Read morePublished on October 30, 2013 by Andito Toquito
I will say this about Bock's novel: I agonized over what rating I should pick, vacillating back and forth between giving it 3 stars and giving it 4. Read morePublished on August 14, 2013 by Jesse Rose
In Beautiful Children, Charles Bock imagines a Vegas whose debauchery forces young people to lose their childhood, and innocence, much too soon. Read morePublished on March 7, 2013 by Lee Matthew Goldberg
I almost stopped reading the book after the first chapter but kept wanting it to get better so continued reading. Read morePublished on February 25, 2013 by Philly
Twenty years ago when I flew into Las Vegas for the first time the flood of neon into the cockpit filled my mind with plastic fantasy. Read morePublished on October 29, 2012 by John Van Wagner
I am amazed at al of the negative reviews about this book. I was so drawn in from the very beginning. I felt like I was right there watching all that was written about. Read morePublished on August 30, 2012 by Dale