Grand Central Publishing (2009)
Reviewed by Victoria Gonzales for Reader Views (11/09)
Wow! This book is awesome and just fun to read! If you like the title “Spooner,” then I can guarantee you will like this book. It is full of the absurdities of life, and despite being a fiction novel, it feels very real. You can recognize aspects of the characters in the people in your own life. It is like reading a complete confession of one of your close friends. You might find out more than you wanted to know, but it is fascinating all the same. Spooner is a rather strange child, and his family is just as strange as he is. Spooner’s childhood is hilarious; he becomes the fiend of the neighborhood, peeing in his neighbors’ shoes. His family has difficulty relating to Spooner, and sometimes resent him, but Spooner does not seem to mind. His mother decides that she loves Spooner’s stillborn twin more than she loves Spooner. One of his brothers, Darrow, is very different from Spooner. Darrow is a genius, but is not good at socializing with people. The book also goes in depth with Spooner’s stepfather, and his story is very poignant and a lot of people will identify with it if they have ever had to provide care for another person.
Spooner accepts everything that comes to him, and is so easy-going even when strange and terrible things happen to him. After he is injured and can no longer play baseball, he has to reevaluate what he is going to do with his life. He seems to just fall into a position where he is writing at a newspaper, and marries a woman who accepts him for who he is. You will cringe at some of the things Spooner gets himself into (an awful bar fight for seemingly no reason), and cheer when things finally go right for him.
“Spooner” by Pete Dexter is a guilty pleasure; it is kind of like a car crash. You know it is bad, but you look anyway because it is fascinating. I laughed out loud throughout the book; one passage that was just so absurd was a description of a hospital patient who was undergoing treatment at the same time as Spooner. Mr. Graves took very good care of his car, and when he finally allowed his wife to drive it, she panicked while he was directing her where to park, and “she scratched the bumper, not incidentally pinning Mr. Graves against the brick wall of a parking lot… she wasn’t sure of what happened, but she was pretty sure from the noise he made afterwards that she’d scratched the car.” You will keep reading despite Spooner’s awkward nature and all the ridiculous events surrounding his life. If you are interested at all in a very honest portrayal of humanity, then I highly recommend this book.