Thoughts Model Home: a novel by Eric Puchner, Scribner 2010, 360 pages
For the What’s in a Name 5 Challenge (house category) and February’s selection for my book club “THE BOOKIES” – discussion 2/22
FIRST SENTENCE: “Two days after his car – an ’85 Chrysler LeBaron with leather seats and all-power accessories – vanished from the driveway, Warren Ziller crept past the expensive homes of his neighbors, trying to match his dog’s limp.”
WHAT’s it ABOUT: Ol’ Warren, our protagonist, chased the dream of making big cash in the sunny land of California, moved his family and staked his claim & fortune in a property development project that ended up next to a toxic waste dump. Losing it all, but not quite his family; lots of shit happens when it all falls apart. And still, the family seems to, at least, still be talking to each other and attempting to move on.
Despite my innumerable (ok, only three) statements that this is ‘quite depressing’, I liked it more than I thought I would while I was being depressed by it all. Now that I’ve finished, now I can remind myself that “this is only.a.book.” AND, a book set in the long ago Eighties! That crap is over. Of course, we could say we now have the same only more current crap but don’t get me started…
I do know that I have no interest in moving to the sprawl of California. (the one described in this book.)
Which leads me to what is GOOD about Model Home. It feels so authentic. The characters were flawed but not overdone. The situations sad but presented with a tiny thread of hope to pull on. Pull on that thread and would it all unravel more?! or would it fall apart into solution and progress and growth and resolution? yea, right. It was life, very believable UNFAIR crappy life.
I liked poor Warren. I do think that if we had only a few more pages we would have read about his heart attack but thankfully, Puchner knew to stop when he did. I liked his wife Camille and understood her conflict, her dilemma, her attentions and neglect. I really rooted for Lyle (real name Delilah) though I was not at all like her in her need to ‘experience’ – she was much more brave than I. Dustin? I disliked Dustin most of all, but even he, too, comes around to push my buttons and make me cry the hardest in his saga of pain and possible redemption. And nutty weird strange Jonas – can ya blame him?!
My favorite character is Mr. Leonard. He’s the dog. Even that storyline could have melted into melodrama, but for me was spot on.
I think Mr. Puchner did an admirable job in this debut novel. When people mention it is funny (DARK-FUNNY), I probably would disagree. But then, I did laugh at times.
FINAL THOUGHTS: If I would put this into a category, it would be “you’ll probably not exactly like it while you’re reading it, but. It is well written. It’s possible that it will be one you remember much longer than that last book you loved but can’t recall the title.”
RATING: Three stars for “I liked it.” If I could give it three and a half, I would. Three slices of Sour Cream Raisin Pie. Pick out the raisins…
Other REVIEWS: Check out Ti’s fabulous review here, Sandy was ‘swept away by this family’s story’, Lori at she treads softly said, “Puchner is certainly a talented writer…”
p.23 – SOTTO VOCE – in a soft voice
p.310 – COROLLA – (Nope, not just a Toyota!) – the petals of a flower – “A mansion, flowering into a corolla of rooms…”
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