8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Panorama City (Hardcover)
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Twenty-eight-year-old Oppen Porter is a naif. In another era he would have been called a simpleton. His aunt calls him the village idiot. He calls himself a slow absorber. Earnest, well-intentioned and barely able to read, but adept with numbers, Oppen leaves his hometown of Madera for the San Fernando Valley and Panorama City, where his aunt lives, after his father dies and he buries him, as the old man had wanted, on the family property between his two hunting dogs, which doesn't sit too well with the local authorities. Oppen has been surviving on odd jobs, mainly in construction, which he picks up by bicycling into town, but he figures that by moving to Panorama City, he will become a man of the world. On the bus to LA, he meets Paul Renfro, an itinerant "philosopher" and "thinker" (cum con man, of course), who latches onto Oppen and makes a big impression on him.
When he reaches Panorama City, hardly the garden spot of Los Angeles, Oppen finds out that his humorless aunt, a mobile notary, control freak and religious fanatic, has lined up a job for him at a fast food restaurant, as well as sessions with a shrink. In time, she also deposits him at a storefront church. She's convinced that it's up to her to whip Oppen into shape...as long as it's the shape she has in mind for him.
Oppen drifts along in life, taking these developments in stride, accepting at face value whatever anyone tells him and reassuring himself that he's on the path to becoming the man of the world he longs to be. When Renfro reappears in his life, to his aunt's dismay, he begins to question the life she has laid out for him. His unself-conscious observations as he recounts his story are wise, astute and usually very funny, especially because, convinced he's going to die, he is telling his story into a tape recorder from a hospital bed as a legacy for his unborn son, Juan-George.
The whole thing is, of course, wildly improbable and not a little satirical, but there's also a real sweetness underlying the concept, the story and the execution that makes for an entertaining and satisfying read, especially for this ex-Angeleno.
You've probably never encountered a character like Oppen Porter or a book like Panorama City. Both are true originals, and I highly recommend making their acquaintance.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 20, 2012 12:30:30 PM PDT
Ed Morgan says:
Well-written review. Thank you very much. This aunt sounds like a rather unlikable character. I'd love to hear more about here! I guess I'll lust have to read the book.
Posted on Sep 15, 2013 3:34:23 AM PDT
Eric Selby says:
Reviews like this are so helpful. I am definitely going to buy this thanks to you.
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