Monday, January 13, 2014

Letter to My Best Friend, Brady Udall

Hey Brady, 

What goes on in that mind of yours?  How does it work?  What kind of twisted, loopy, roundabout, underpass, overpass, detour routing drives the creation of these stream of consciousness semantic maps that result in novels?  A number of obstacles drew me away from hitting the book - so to speak - earlier, even though it is my discussion book for this coming Friday.  Knowing this weekend would be the only dedicated time I would have with your 600 pages, I committed to the challenge.  By the end of Sunday afternoon, you had exhausted me, yet I felt strangely happy.

Yes, oddly happy...since I didn't really care for any of the characters you created.  But, like The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, your artistry gripped me, and I found myself drawn deeper and deeper into the complex world of style and nuance.   I did feel some compassion for the sister wives and a couple of the kids, but for the most part, the stories layered upon stories were, at their core, grim pictures of pathetic people who either created their own circumstances, or chose not to change the circumstance they were in.  

Your timing is impeccable.  Just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore, you'd toss in a phrase, a small comment or just the right word to soften the edges.  Indeed!   I laughed often despite the dysfunction filling each page.  The ostrich.  The "La Cucaracha" cantata, the Eisenhower pinata.  Where does this stuff come from?  

Thanks for the little family tree in the front of the book.  At first, I referred to it often, and then realized, that for me, it didn't really matter who was who.  I don't think you really want us to focus on a linear plot.  If you did, you wouldn't  take us on the fascinating day trips.  I'm not implying, Brady, that your characters weren't well developed.  In fact, because you provide so much back story, tender details, and crisp visuals, that were your entire cast to walk into my space right now, I am sure I could name them with a decent percentage  of  precision.  

I know Mike Magnuson.  I know that you and Mike wrote together at Breadloaf.  So, in one of those convoluted logic puzzle ways, I want to say that I know you. I want to be able to flash  this book around and say "Look what my friend Brady wrote.  It's art.  It's not Jody Picoult socio- pseudo intellectual silliness, it's not a lot of stuff.  It's my friend, Brady and he wrote this book that doesn't suck. I am so proud of him."  But, I know that being proud of you, my friend, boils down to bragging rights, and that ain't worth much.  So I will be happy to share my thoughts with my book group and hope they liked it better than they like "Edgar".  By the way, brilliant call making Presley his middle name.

Your pretend friend and sincere admirer