Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip. by John Donovan

First published 1969. Reissued by Flux 2010.

When the grandmother who raised him dies, Davy Ross, a lonely thirteen-year-old boy, must move to Manhattan to live with his estranged mother. Between alcohol-infused lectures about her self-sacrifice and awkward visits with his distant father, Davy’s only comfort is his beloved dachshund Fred. Things start to look up when he and a boy from school become friends. But when their relationship takes an unexpected turn, Davy struggles to understand what happened and what it might mean. (goodreads.com)

DNF. And I feel kind of bad about it because it's supposed to be this amazing, moving story that was ahead of its time when it was originally published. But I just couldn't take another talk about Davy's dog.

I really liked the voice. It was simplistic in its telling yet carried with it a depth that could only be held by young words looking for ways around the darkness. There's a heaviness to the story that Davy skirts on the edge of, focusing his time on his dog. I didn't feel it dated at all, either. Having been written in 1969, Davy could have rightly been walking around today. Any elements that hint at a decade are subtle, letting the most important aspect of the book, the story, come through.

In that same vein, I felt like I was reading a day-by-day diary of a boy walking his dog. Halfway into the book and the love interest had just barely made an appearance and he's a bit of a jerk. There's something there that's making him that way but I just didn't have the patience to stick it out.

I wanted the story to get to the point. It's a short story; coming in at just over 200 pages. And halfway into it I was still working through the set-up. Maybe that's attributed to the style at the time. Maybe in order to broach such a sensitive topic it had to be eased into gently. My patience just didn't like that.

Still, I'd urge people to give it a try. It is supposed to be an amazing story and I can tell you, the writing is really good. You're just going to need a little more patience than what I had at the time to get through it.
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