Jason Priestley (no, not that Jason Priestley) is in a rut. He gave up his teaching job to write snarky reviews of cheap restaurants for the free newspaper you take but don’t read. He lives above a video-game store, between a Polish newsstand and that place that everyone thinks is a brothel but isn’t. His most recent Facebook status is “Jason Priestley is . . . eating soup.” Jason’s beginning to think he needs a change.
-synopsis from Goodreads.
Being swamped in a towering pile of projects and midterms, it took me over a week to finish Danny Wallace’s new novel, Charlotte Street. For a brief moment I considered the ramifications if I didn’t finish reading the book in time for the blog tour; I’d probably either have to make some lame excuse like me accidentally dropping the book over my balcony, or I would have to piece together a glowing review from other people’s thoughts and pretend I knew what I was talking about. How ironic it would be to write a “fake” review for a novel about a guy that writes reviews for a pizza he hasn’t eaten, and a film he didn’t watch. Fortunately, I was able to finish the novel with nineteen days to spare and you are reading a review from someone who actually finished all 400 pages.
Summary in a Nutshell:
Jason, is a middle-aged journalist who starts brooding when his ex-girlfriend is engaged. He finds himself with a girl’s disposable camera and decides to develop her pictures–determined to find The Girl.
The tagline claims that this book is a “heartwarming tale of boy stalks girl.” I was interested in the disposable camera storyline, but the story kept diverging until it was in a mix of sub-plots where I kept wondering if the author forgot about the who disposable camera thing.
Voice and Pace, Jason Sounds Like Danny Wallace:
One of the reasons I wanted to be on the Charlotte Street blog tour was because I read one of Danny Wallace’s nonfiction works, Friends Like These: My Worldwide Quest to Find My Best Childhood Friends, Knock on Their Doors, and Ask Them to Come Out and Play, which was about Wallace adventures to find all of his childhood friends. I was curious to see what Wallace’s foray into fiction would be like. However, I found Charlotte Street to be a similar formula, instead of hunting down friends from a box of childhood memories, Jason is hunting down a girl from a disposable camera. And like Friends Like These, Charlotte Street’s pace was uncomfortably slow at times (and filled with unrelated stuff), with all these side revelations on the side. I also found Jason to be similar to Wallace with his dry humor.
But while I could connect to Wallace’s sentiments in Friends Like Us, I couldn’t connect to Jason. I was ambivalent towards him, and at times I thought he was just a generically hopeless loser–he was one of those guys that tries too hard to get people to like him, the kind spends too much time comparing himself to others.
The Girl’s Blog:
At the end of a few chapters, there are blog posts from The Girl. I am still not so sure what the significance of those posts were; I didn’t feel they added anything to the girl’s character at all, besides her sharing Jason’s interests and letting the reader know she wasn’t in a relationship. I hoped that her blog posts would be like a novel with dual perspectives, and her life would coincide with Jason’s–but they didn’t. How disappointing.
Before I got to the last chapter or two, I was set on giving this book a “meh, borrrinnng” rating, but I did find the ending sweet, albeit also predictably cheesy. But sweet nonetheless. I have to admit that the ending was super fast; all those loose ends that was plodding by in the last twenty chapters suddenly resolved magically in a page or two–like the writer approaching a word count limit or something.
Overall, a sweet casual read that’s like a chick-flick in a guy’s perspective.
Want more of Danny Wallace’s Charlotte Street? Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TLC tour stops:
Tuesday, October 23rd: Paperspines
Wednesday, October 24th: Pingwing’s Bookshelf
Thursday, October 25th: a novel toybox
Friday, October 26th: The Written World
Monday, October 29th: Stephany Writes
Tuesday, October 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, October 31st: StephTheBookworm
Thursday, November 1st: Book Journey
Monday, November 5th: The Book Garden
Tuesday, November 6th: Book Him Danno!
Wednesday, November 7th: My Bookshelf