Friday, March 23, 2012

Glen Duncan: Death of an Ordinary Man

Death of an Ordinary Man: A NovelDeath of an Ordinary Man: A Novel by Glen Duncan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that clearly doesn't play by the "rules" promoted by most writing self-help books - which may explain why I enjoyed it so much.

The story unfolds very slowly. It's a bit like the movie Pulp Fiction. It's not put together in the traditional beginning-middle-end structure that we all know so well. The story starts at the end and works its way forward, only to come back to the end. Even the prose, which reflects the garbled minds/emotions of the characters, follows the pattern set forth by the story structure. The entire book is designed to do one thing - slow the reader down. Duncan makes you take this story one spoonful at a time - which is what we do, when we confront the idea of death. And death is the theme of this book.

The main character, Nathan, is recently deceased. The most important things to him in his life was his family so his wife, son, two daughters, and a life-long best friend are major players in the story. That makes the beginning of this book a little difficult to navigate. There's a lot of people to meet, all at once, but this allowed Duncan to emotionally tug readers around as we bounce through the stages of grief from the different perspectives of the characters. I found myself stopping after each emotional outburst, only to make assumptions about what would happen next; then, I came back to the book to see if my assumptions were correct. I don't want to give away spoilers, so I'll end this simply by saying that Duncan didn't disappoint me.

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