Book review: Home Land

Home Land is filled with great characters, their sharply-observed characteristics and film-worthy comic exchanges. There is no end, apparently, to Sam Lipsyte's invention, and dude not only has an eagle eye for the bullshit we try to pass off as character, he can turn a phrase like a fine (albeit filthy) woodworker turns a fancy-ass chair leg.

Oh, and final disclaimer: while I did laugh in many parts of this sharply-written comic novel, I suspect I am too dumb to get some of the jokes, as (a) The Boyfriend, who is demonstrably smarter than yours truly, laughed far oftener (and more heartily) than yours truly and (b) I had to look up several words in my handy, bedside, pocket-Oxford dictionary, which will kill a joke faster than you can say "A piece of string walks into a bar."

So maybe I'm jaded or maybe I'm stoopit or maybe a little of both, but I felt like Home Land, while undeniably smart and clever and funny and, to an extent, true, had the same fragmented feel of so much postmodern fiction written by authors raised on TV and film.

Briefly, it's the story of a too-smart fringe dweller who ramps up to his high school reunion by submitting a cavalcade of submissions to the alumni newsletter cataloguing the sad truths of his loser life. Sad, funny truths. Funny, cinematic truths.

I have nothing against imagery that leaps off a page, and I'm not some freaky purist who rails against the corruption of sacred text by the evil cinema. To the contrary, I actually think that occasionally, the movies do a better job of telling the story than their source material. But I can't help but feel as though, more and more, smart, funny writers are writing novels with an eye to how their material will play out on the screen. It's been awhile since I read a new book that read...well, like a book. And I'm old and curmudgeonly enough to miss 'em.


UPDATE (12/3/08): In a shameless and transparent act of caving, I've been replacing book and DVD links with Amazon affiliate links throughout the site. I MAKE MONEY WHEN YOU CLICK ON THESE. Like, a full 1/4 cent or something. Whatever. I'm happy if you borrow it from a friend or the library, or buy it used (I like and alibris online) or, praise Jeebus!, from your local independent dead tree retailer. Seriously. The main thing is, read. Absorb. Enjoy. Pass it on.