Friday, July 1, 2011

Off Keck Road: A Novella by Mona Simpson

Set in Green Bay, Wis., where Simpson grew up, "Off Keck Road" moves between the last few decades, telling of characters who are emotionally and often physically paralyzed, frozen in place and standing apart, destined, in some cases, to miss out on even the most ordinary chances for happiness.

That's all I will tell you about the summary, and jump right into my review.

I give it 2 1/2 stars. Not two stars because I didn't dislike it, but not three stars because I also did not like it. I found it to be lackluster and shallow. While the characters had some serious flaws, both emotional and physical, I was never invested in them. I continued to have to go back and read about characters and their relationships to one another, and I was still confused.

For example, Shelley's grandmother was called Gram Umberhum. George and June were her kids. Shelley helped George build a pool in his backyard (when he was an adult) and they started a sexual relationship, even though she was young enough to be his daughter (maybe younger).

My confusion is this: I never remember reading Shelley's last name, but if her grandmother's last name is Umberhum, couldn't we assume that Shelley and George are related in some way? I could never figure it out, but didn't try very hard because I was at the point that I just didn't care. It was creepy either way.

I did find out that Keck Road was more or less on the lesser desirable end of the real estate spectrum, residents didn't have large homes and often didn't keep them up. June lived on Keck Road and was embarrassed by it. Other than that, I'm not sure what foreshadowing the title was supposed to impart.

So it went with this book. If it had been a bit longer, I probably would have put it down, but at 167 pages, it was worth it just to add to my "Books I have Read" list.

Can't recommend this one.

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