So today I finished reading a book called Mr. Peanut that I bought at City Lights Books back when we were on our San Francisco trip in May.
I read a couple of pretty good reviews of the book after I finished it today, one from NPR and also a New York Times review by Scott Turow.
The novel, by Adam Ross, was well written, had a fairly complicated structure, and explored some interesting and difficult themes. At times, though, it made for a kind of harrowing read (which, I think, was part of the reason it took me a while to finish the book).
Mr. Peanut deals with marriage and questions about why marriages work and fail, exploring these questions in the context of a sort of a convoluted murder mystery. The book takes a look at at least three different marriages, each of them dysfunctional in a different way, and the novel is unsettling not just because of the murders that occur within it (I've read a number of horror, sci fi, and fantasy novels with as much or more bloodshed), but becauseof the realistic, recognizable, painful fights and relationship difficulties that foreshadow the violence.
Mr. Peanut was a book that was troubling because it just hits some raw nerves in terms of depicting the psychology of relationships. Even though very few readers have probably ever wanted to literally murder a loved one, a much larger number of readers will be able to relate to a fleeting (or maybe not so fleeting) sensation of wanting to "kill" someone out of frustration, anger, disappointment, etc..
I'm not going to say much more about the books because I think other reviewers have already done a pretty good job at saying some good things about it (Turow definitely has a strong review).
I guess I mostly just felt like Mr. Peanut was a book that I didn't exactly enjoy all of the way through, but still, I guess that in the end I thought it was a very solid novel. The book puts its audience through some unpleasant experiences, but it also gets the reader to think about relationships and maybe even learn a thing or two by way of close, detailed examination of the normally private emotional lives of couples.
Even though it took me a while to get through it, I have a feeling that Mr. Peanut is going to be one of those books that sticks with me for some time.
Ummm... okay, this wasn't my best book post. Maybe I'll update it again later and make it better.
Of course, by then you'll all have moved on to better things.
But I'll feel better.