on August 15, 2002
The Frog King is to the novel as the Krispy Kreme is to the doughnut. People should stand in line to get one. I could not put it down. Although I read it in two days (at the supermarket, in line at LL Bean, walking down the street), I later wished I had controlled my appetite for his delicious prose so that it had lasted longer. But then Krispy Kremes do that to you.
Enough of the doughnot analogy. Davie's is a master story teller. The reader gets inside Harry Driscoll's mind---from one digression to the next. You can almost feel yourself sinking with Harry the hairball, wanting to beg him to see what he's doing to himself and Evie.
Publisher's Weekly didn't understand the book. It's a coming of age book. Yet it's also a book about not writing a book---until the end. It's a love story about someone who can't love. It's a non cliche about a cliche. It's a story of redemption and metamorphosis. It's a comedy about a tragedy.
Although I'm long past Harry's age, I still have a memory. But even if I could not relate to Harry's character, I would love the book for Davies' writing. It was one of the best books I've read in a long time.
on August 7, 2002
is just one of the many thoughts which occurred to me during the first dozen pages or so of this delightful novel. i finished it a couple days ago, not without a pang of regret, and now i feel it is my duty to write a brief, glowing review. so first, here's what i scribbled on the glossy square of cardboard when i selected this book as my "bookseller's pick" the other day (i work at a sad little bookstore in athens, georgia, which is struggling to persevere, not unlike the book's lovably snooty protagonist, under the heavy burden of several tons of bad writing): "an intelligent, wholly original novel about a young man struggling to survive (literally!) in the cut-throat world of new york city book publishing, THE FROG KING is adam davies' flashy debut. a former creative writing professor at the university of georgia, davies has crafted a modern coming-of-age tale that manages to be at least as emotionally profound as it is hilarious. harry, his peaks-and-valleys hero, is complex and tragic, but also fiendishly witty and ultimately compassionate. as an editor at a prestigious publishing firm, his supreme enemy is the literary cliche, but what happens when he discovers that it is he himself who has become the biggest, most despicable cliche of them all?"
ok, now onto other things, such as comparisons (no book review, however brief and glowing, is complete without them): the three books that come to mind when i think about THE FROG KING are michael chabon's MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH (which is less affecting, less honest), jay mcinerney's BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY (which is less exciting, less funny), and gaitskill's TWO GIRLS, FAT AND THIN (which is less consistent, less engaging). all of these books are masterpieces in my mind, and all of them certainly have their strong suits. but now they've got a new roommate, a scampy rascal with a big fat heart and an even bigger and fatter vocabulary.
so: buy this book and tickle your humanity. the end.
on January 8, 2011
"It occurs to me that there is nothing lonelier than masturbating by yourself when the woman you love is naked, drunk, and lathered up in a hot shower five feet away."
The above is our hero on page 16.
There seems to be a lot of fiction showing up lately in which the narrator is a supposedly wised-up dweeb in his 20s whose endless screw-ups are much less charming or interesting than the author must intend; another common factor is that this narrator has close access to the most beautiful girl in existence, a model or somesuch, who more or less treats him as a gay confidante -- though we're meant to be in no doubt that he is in fact hetero. The alleged narrative tension lies in the unfortunate reader waiting forever for this hero to get his act together careerwise and assert himself for better or worse with the unbelievably beautiful girl.
Often he has a secret -- his mother or brother died, or maybe his dog Spot, and the fact that he's in secret mourning is meant to render him a tragic figure of sorts. This is why he keeps screwing up and/or getting fired. Because he's sad. When the beautiful girl discovers this key to his character she'll view him in an entirely new light.
on September 7, 2002
Davies first novel is an excellent novel. Jennifer Belle has called it "totally orignal" which is not exactly true, but does have some original moments and characters. You can't help but fall in love with Evie and her extraordinary patience. Harry is hard to love, but somehow you cheer for him. At times he reminded of Rob from High Fidelity (all arrested development and commitment phobic). Nevertheless, our American boy does ok. There are things that Harry goes through that many of us who are single and 28 (or there abouts) and live in the big city go through. He captures, with wonderful and painful truth, the awful feelings of losing someone you love. And the moral of this non-fairy tale fairy tale: To love someone, you must love yourself is not new--but told with humor and heart. The ending was a bit surpising, but not at all disappointing. I read most the book in one day. I enjoyed it. Davies writes very well and he clearly loves language. Was Judith based on Judith Reagan I wonder? I still have some questions, but overall I'd recommend this fine debut. Harry is something of hairball, but to some he may become a hero.
on February 28, 2003
I collect frogs. So when I saw signed copies of this book left by the author in a bookstore, I had to buy one. It sat on the shelf for a loooong time. Now I'm sorry I didn't read it sooner. I'd have had a much bigger vocabulary much earlier!
Harry Driscoll is a bad boyfriend. He has no money. He smells. He has funky rashes. He drinks too much. He has lost his sense of compassion. And, although he loves his girlfriend, Evie, he refuses to say the words. Eventually, he loses her, and, frankly, you'll be glad. After all, how can you respect Evie if she stays?
Harry makes some changes in his life in order to win back the girl of his dreams. Does it work? I won't tell, but you'll be surprised and even pleased with the outcome.
For me, this book was a delightful education. See, Harry Driscoll reads the dictionary, and, because he does, the novel is full of delicious words you'd never dreamed existed--words for things you'd never dreamed existed!
I can't wait for Adam Davies' next book. Meanwhile, I'll be practicing omphaloskepsis.
on September 1, 2002
Save your time, money and most importantly your stomach bile by not reading this book. It had the nauseating combination of a boring storyline and unreal dialogue. It seemed to me as I grudgingly turned the pages that this book was simply a vehicle for the author to display his command of pretentious never-used words. I would have honestly prefered to read the dictionary.
I read "Goodbye Lemon", the author's second novel. I found it so compelling that I was left thinking about the characters long after the last page was turned. I begged my husband to get me "The Frog King" since I could not find it at Borders or any other book store in the area. Enter Amazon. So, blissfully for my birthday, he complied.
I read this book in less than a week. It was utterly compelling, somewhat edgy at times, yet the story was not boring. It is a love story in the sense that Harry can not admit to Evie he loves her. Instead, he says "Viva la Evie!" He cheats, though in his mind for the right reasons. He wants to provide a better life for her so he figures the ends justifies the means. I think Harry epitomizes many of us who have worked in entry level jobs where you can't seem to get anywhere. He became jaded, thus his sliding backward into sophomoric behavior. He is poor, he has no money and is often hungry. This novel speaks to everyone, I think. A somewhat twisted, yet neurotic at times, love story, a story about a guy who is trying to get by and ultimately ahead, and the wrenching pains of growing up finally and realizing that you want to be somebody and stop sabotaging yourself. I recommend this book to anyone. It is quirky, smirky and was a thought provoking read.
on August 26, 2013
The Frog King is a wonderful example of having exactly what you want right under your nose, but not seeing it. Harry has the perfect girlfriend in Evie (who he loves but can't seem to tell her), yet he continues to womanize. Of course when they break up, he does whatever he can to get her back (yet can't quite stop lying to her).
On top of his woman problems, Harry hates his job at a publishing company and seems to sabotage everything he does there.
Harry frustrated me so much! I wanted to give him a little smack to wake him up. Frustrations aside it was hard to not like him, as he is quite charming. I couldn't put the book down, I just had to keep reading and hoping that things to work out for him in the end.
on September 25, 2002
The hype said this book was about a modern Holden Caulfield.
In fact, it's just about a drunk.
on May 29, 2008
This book had some promise, with potentially deep storylines...but it fell short on all accounts. The main character never actually matures or changes, even though the author tries to portray him as an immature man that grows up during the novel and realizes the error of his ways. Instead, the author uses the same old analogies and comments just like his character does the same thing throughout the whole novel.