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Flatscreen: A Novel Paperback – February 21, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
Yes and no. This starts out as you would expect. Teen angst, self loathing, drugs, totally directionless life. But self-aware enough to know that he is going nowhere, and well aware that he is miserable. People are always telling him he is funny, and that is also the main positive feature of the book's first part. His self-description? "A defeated-by-gravity stomach. Hair was a bird's nest. I was a wounded, well-fed bird."
It is a pleasure to read the language of this book. The language is well crafted, innovative, and interesting. "People said I was like [Uncle Ned] because he was a f...up [Amazon required ellipse]. Then he died. They stopped saying it." But after awhile I feared that the book was going nowhere. That the lively language wasn't sufficiently compensating for the lack of plot development. No job, lives with mom, watches TV all day, interests limited to scoring women and drugs. Success with the later, not the former. Aimless, drifting, sad. This does not make for a successful life, or book.
But then an incredible thing happens. The plot and the writing subtly change. Plot changes are what you expect in a coming of age novel, and the writer constantly plays with the reader's expectation and hope for this. He provides nineteen possible endings to the life of our narrator and the book. Everything from quick death, pathetic loneliness and drug addiction to various versions of rich, famous, happy. But the book has no sudden changes, no instant resolutions.Read more ›
The book also really lost something in the gazillion "possible endings." I think this book could have easily been catapulted from okay to good by slashing those by half or more (they were really, really annoying by the end) and expanding the end of the book. Just as the book begins to transition from Eli being a complete annoyance to someone we start to care about, the book is littered with his daydreams of how his life may turn out. Don't get me wrong, some are vital to the book and understanding Eli, but the sheer number of them was just overkill. Along with the movie references and the lists (although I liked the lists), at times the book even seemed gimmicky. It's a shame too, because the book has so much opportunity to be expanded into something much more engaging.
This novel won't be for all tastes. It's gritty, vulgar and relentlessly unsentimental. But readers who can take it will be rewarded with vivid descriptions, thoughtful asides, a crackling pace, and a sardonic protagonist who makes Benjamin Braddock, the Dustin Hoffman character from The Graduate, seem focused and self-assured by comparison.
Eli Schwartz has spent so much of his life watching television that cooking programs have turned him into a gourmet chef. As the novel opens, that's the only talent he's willing to use --- that and taking drugs and sleeping with women, from former classmates to their mothers. Eli's parents are long divorced, and his mother, whom he lives with in a suburban Boston mansion, has decided to sell the house and move into a condo. The buyer is Seymour J. Kahn, who doesn't let his confinement to a wheelchair keep him from cheating on his latest wife, partaking of recreational drugs, and enjoying target practice in his new backyard.Read more ›
The beginning of Flatscreen feels like a well-managed exercise in stream-of-consciousness writing. It jumps like a late-90's music video - flashing tangentially related images that all somehow come together in a weird but cohesive vision. Within the first few pages Wilson gives the reader a good taste of what the next 300+ pages will be like - dark, silly, strange, profane, and sad. The rest of the book is presented in short chapters that alternate between traditional and nontraditional storytelling methods. Sometimes these nontraditional sections take the form of lists and later in the novel these sections are the imagined 19 alternate endings to Eli's story.
This is one of those books where I felt indifferent about the story but enjoyed the craft and construction of the novel. The prose is so quick that it sometimes feels more like reporting then your normal run-of-the-mill writing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another Amazon reviewer writes: "The humor is puerile, the characters non-engrossing, the subject matter pointless." I couldn't agree more. But that's why I liked it. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Monsieur L'Ingrate
If you like funny fiction, you should buy this now. Lots of funny lines, but plenty of lyricism and thoughtfulness too.Published 10 months ago by Crag Talent
I liked this book. I didn't like the character much, but I think that's the point. What genre is this anyway? Slackerfic? I kinda wish the ending had been a little more 'up'. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Kindle Customer
I know this book got decent reviews and some of my friends said it got better towards the end but I could not finish it. Read morePublished 17 months ago by eclecticcrafter
Why do people find this book hilarious? The characters are boring unlikable losers. Perhaps that's the point? But where is the wit? The charm? Read morePublished 20 months ago by OK RACH
“Flatscreen” is a very disappointing novel. It is pretentiously overwritten, and the style is not consistent. It also boasts very unsympathetic characters. Read morePublished 23 months ago by B. Wilfong
This is the novel that Shields predicts for the future: fragments, brevity in narrative, and collage-style content. Read morePublished on April 12, 2014 by matt hunter
hard to follow who was talking....the women didn't seem real almost like he was writing about men but then gave them
tits. it was funny I still laughed out loud allot. Read more
After finishing Flatscreen, it has to be concluded that author, Adam Wilson, has a singularly disturbed and brilliant mind. Read morePublished on October 31, 2013 by Dominic Barber