Saturday, August 3, 2013

Book Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had received a copy of the book via NetGalley. This book by Matthew Quick is somewhat difficult to categorize. Although it is classified as a YA book (young adults), it seems to be more appropriate for adults.

The story revolves around a young man named Leonard Peacock who, on the day of his 18th birthday, decides that he should take his grandfather's old P-38 gun that had a Nazi insignia on it to school. The gun is believed to have been used by the Nazis. Leonard decides he would use that gun on his schoolmate and once-best-friend Asher Beal. Leonard plans to spend his 18th birthday giving gifts to certain people who have played some role in his life that he considers important, shoot Asher Beal, and then shoot himself.

Peacock appears to be quite an intelligent young man. His mother is a fashion designer who lives in New York and leaves him to live alone. He has few friends because he feels he is different from other people. Leonard is indeed different from other people his age. He spends a lot of his time following adults on the train -- dressing up in a suit and carrying an old briefcase -- and observing them as they go about their trips to their workplaces and back. The young man seems to think that all adults are unhappy and go through lives like numb robots.

He appears to have very few and very shallow connections to people that he "likes." Closest to him appears to be a chain-smoking emphesemic neighbor who spends his days watching old Bogart movies. The next closest to him appears to be one of his teachers, Herr Silverman, who handles a class on the Holocaust

Aside from those two people, Leonard seems to have frail connections to two more. One is an Iranian student who is studying at his high school who plays the violin. Leonard's only connection to him seems to be that he likes to listen to the young violinist play. There is also a homeschooled young Christian girl who gives away pamphlets in the city three times a week. The only connection with her is that she looks like his favorite actress Lauren Bacall and he is dreaming of kissing her. Although he is attracted to the girl, he appears to be unable to reconcile himself with the fact that she is religious and he is not.

There is an element that I find a little out of place and that is the "letters from the future." The letters are presented in a way that made me confused as to whether the book was a science-fiction story. They just show up on some pages out of the blue and they threw me off a couple of times. It was only near the end of the story that those "letters" were explained.

There are also footnotes that make reading somewhat tedious. At first I thought they were ordinary footnotes meant to explain certain things within the books. But they are actually part of the narration or the story. Reading them became too much of an effort after a time and I ignored them.

All in all, I found the story rather depressing. I do like to read some stories that can be described as "dark" from time to time, but this one is not at all dark -- it is mega depressing. Although there may be some people who can equate Matthew Quick's writing style in this book as to that of JD Salinger (probably because of the liberal dose of swear words, especially the word "F--k") but I never really liked Salinger so I cannot say I agree with them or not.

If you like depressing stories that will probably drag your mood way down, then you will be perfectly content reading this book. Otherwise, it is an okay read.

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