Thursday, September 07, 2006

Review: "The Frog King" by Adam Davies

"The Frog King" by Adam Davies

Harry Driscoll is "The Frog King." This freshman book by Adam Davies is yet another one of those young guy having a rough times trying to succeed in NYC stories. Once I started reading this book I had to go out and rent that 80's movie with Michael J. Fox, no not "Back to the Future", "Bright Lights, Big City." "The Frog King" is the same sans wild cocaine use and sans Michael J. Fox. Okay I guess it is only similar in that both main characters are assistant editors for a publishing company and both characters have a love interest that was the greatest thing in the world but they both are selfish "smart asses" and lose the girl.

Okay "The Frog King" is actually no comparison. This book while having some similarities to the movie & book "Bright Lights, Big City" it presents a new fresh view. Harry, or "Hairball" to his girlfriend Evie Goddard, is struggling to make ends meet. He has a low salary despite his Ivy League education and has to share an apartment with a strange roommate that has strange affinity toward knives and says never let the superintendent see you. So as you can see, that's a bit sneaky. As an assistant editor he has taken it upon himself to rid the world of cliches. And In relationships he's a typical guy unable to make a commitment and cannot allow himself to use the word love. Oh yeah and he has this manuscript that he just can't seem to write.

Enter his "E" girlfriend, Evie. Harry claims to have problems with "E" girls like; Candi, Jenny, Laurie, or any other girl whose name ends in the "E" sound. And now he has Evie. Evie and Harry have a very intellectual relationship and at the same time very childlike. Evie has endometriosis and has lived with the pain all her life. She cannot have sex due to the pain. But for Harry, she has a very risky surgery so they can share that experience. Throughout this book Harry, talks about her as if she is the only thing in his life. With one exception, he cannot use the word love. Harry in order to further his career starts sleeping with a famous editor, he thinks he's keeping it from Evie but she knows.

So there we have the ongoing battle between a man and his love. Throughout the book we are introduced to some of the book's side characters. There is Keeno, an artist that is Harry's voice of reason. Birdie a homeless girl, that pops up to show Harry's "human" side. And Jordie, the dictionary editor, who Harry wishes he had Jordie's life of a loving wife and family. All the characters in this book are beautifully written and definitely multi-dimensional. Although we learn to love/hate Harry at least we know why.

Although Harry is selfish and never tells Evie he loves her he does come up with some very romantic ways of showing his affection. Like when they couldn't afford to go to Jamaica for vacation, Harry decorates his apartment in a Rasta fashion, although the sand is simulated by the dirt & grit on the linoleum floor. Hey, he tries.

I will warn you this book does not have a happy ending, nor does it have a sad ending. It's is a very real book in that it really doesn't have an ending. In this book the ending is not what the reader seeks, in fact I didn't want it to end. The storytelling is captivating. Another feature is the constant wordplay and even the logomachy between Harry and Jordie. If you don't know what logomachy is read the book and it'll be fun.

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