There are books that I review with the liberry’s website in mind, and there are those that I don’t. This is one of the latter because I don’t know how to say what I want to say without, quite possibly, offending someone. Oh wait…I forgot is my personal blog, so I don’t really care. So there.
I didn’t really know what I was getting into with Panorama City. What I did know was that I was about to spend about 8 hours driving to Houston and back over the course of the weekend, and I’d like an audiobook to fill the time. I don’t have much experience with audiobooks: besides a couple from my childhood (Sphere and one called something like The Emerald Tree), I’ve only successfully listened to all of To Kill a Mockingbird (narrated by Sissy Spacek, who did an excellent job). Panorama City was the perfect length, which was my primary reason for reading it.
From the blurb, which I admit I didn’t read very carefully, I thought I’d be listening to a book about a twenty-something hippie driving through California. That seemed perfect. Except that’s not what I got. At all. I mean, look at the cover, even. I was thinking long road and desert and such. But that’s not the main problem:
The narrator is…special.
I’m not sure if he’s autistic or what, but he’s a “special needs” type. That’s as politically correct as I can make myself be here. I just don’t like books narrated like that: I think that it’s because it makes me sad when someone’s taking advantage of them or making fun of them, and they don’t get it. I don’t want to know about this kid’s first pot-smoking experience when he didn’t even know what was happening to him. UGH.
So here’s the gist of the plot: A 27-year-old “special” guy lives with his father, who dies. His aunt takes over: he moves in, and she tries to give him structure and control every aspect of his life. Except she can’t watch him every minute, and he gets into trouble – but it’s just because he wants to live his own life. His aunt underestimates his abilities, treats him like he can’t do anything for himself, which he can. Again: UGH.
Once I figured out what was going on, which didn’t take long, I would have stopped reading – if I wasn’t in the car with nothing better to do. And I figured it’d get me ahead so I can read some more Game of Thrones soon. It’s not like Panorama City is a bad novel: I even enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It’s just that it’s not the type of book I like to read. I didn’t get through The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for the same reason. Some types of novels just frustrate me. Something similar happened with Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s a sequel to The Bean Trees, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but it involves the state taking away a child for no good reason. That kind of thing frustrates me as much as novels like Panorama City. I didn’t finish it.
Another thing: I haven’t looked up Antoine Wilson, but I bet he has an MFA. Panorama City follows a grad school kind of pattern and reeks of formal education, maybe even an assignment that just kind of grew. Meh.
So. What I’m saying is that Panorama City isn’t a bad novel, just that it’s not the kind of novel I like. You might. And if you’re offended, well, sorry?