Sunday, February 6, 2011

Vacation by Deb Olin Unferth

An obsessive screwup follows people around even to Nicaragua

I enjoyed this. The sentences and the situations were very funny, absurd even, and yet at the same time incredibly moving. These characters are desperate, though the reader knows (do the characters?) that happiness cannot be achieved. Part of the book is also a very cutting depiction of marriage, as the husband and wife elaborately slash each other to pieces over trivia like leaving a light on. The male POV feels realistic to me here – pissed off and stubborn. I have read some of Unferth’s short stories, and while I thought they were funny, I also thought they had a bit of pretention about them. But not here. People follow each other all over the place, ultimately following them to death. The gaps between the beautiful sentences are terrifying.

Why do people do the things they do? Maybe it all boils down to a brain tumor. Ultimately, the world is bleak. But beautiful.

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