Synopsis: Courtesy of Goodreads
Written with great energy and wonderful,fanatic precision and brimming with rapid-fire, often gritty dialog, Barons evokes the spirit of the 1970s. Conjuring up an ensemble of extraordinary, true-to-the-age characters, he invites all who lived through that decade of love and language to rekindle the dreams of that generation.
In The Midst Of summons the generation that defined the 70s. Brian, a college sophomore, connects with an offbeat mentor cum older brother named Hollis in a lopsided relationship. When Hollis at last moves on, Brian wanders through jungles of myth, love and rich language in search of his lost friend. Like zapping digitized aliens in a 70s video arcade, reconstructing the past relies on virtual images. Brian meets Angie, Cindy, David and Nancy and Nadine, but the question remains, does one ever meet Hollis, the elusive harlequin and hero from Brian s past?
Hollis is the quest, as distinctive as the bull s eye embossed on any Zen-archers target. To find him is to find rationality at the center of a koan and truth in the abode of memory.
My Review: In the Midst Of is one of the most difficult reads I’ve had in awhile. Set in the 70s, much of the book felt like perhaps it as an inside joke that you will only understand if you lived the party life of the decade. The story seems to bounce from one party or bar to the next, all with the character of Hollis as the center of attention. To those of us who did not live that life, the tale is tedious and very often, pointless.
Hollis himself is someone who very few people would get along with. He seems very unfeeling and difficult to understand, all the while quite arrogant and sure that his position is the only one that exists. The story is told from the perspective of maybe the only person Hollis is close to, Brian – a character who seems unwilling to see any of Hollis’ faults and will defend him to the end. Perhaps a trait we’d all like in a friend, but hopefully from a less brainwashed perspective.
To the reader, Hollis is borderline aggressive almost all of the time, yet you can see that it’s likely he suffers from high functioning autism or maybe some kind of mental illness. Seeing this in the character makes the reader sympathetic to him, but never once did I feel that I liked Hollis. At the most, it makes you regret that the study of mental illness wasn’t as strong then as it is now. Hollis never felt like anything more than a self interested, arrogant, jerk. The kind of person you meet and immediately avoid. At the same time, numerous characters throughout the book are drawn to him, as though he has some magnetism that I never felt while reading about him.
Hollis is a very intelligent person, and proud of it. But you never know if what he’s telling you is the truth, or something he made up to satisfy his own mind. I have known some people who are similar to Hollis, and the sad thing is that sometimes, people don’t seem to understand that life isn’t about being smarter than everyone else; it’s about adapting to people, making a community, and identifying with one another. Unfortunately, some people weren’t made to fit that mold, and those people also unfortunately think there’s something wrong with everyone else. The book identifies Hollis as an outsider, which he absolutely is, but he doesn’t seem to realize that being an outsider isn’t what we all want.
It was also difficult to follow transitions in the story: there were numerous situations where one thing would be going on, and suddenly the scene has moved with no indication that things were changing. The reader has a difficult time following who is speaking during the dialog scenes, there isn’t always a clear indication that a dialog is even taking place, as a conversation will take place in one paragraph. It takes rereading to be able to understand that there was an exchange between two people. Eventually, the reader has to wonder if this is done on purpose to show that Hollis is smarter than the rest of us.
The writer has talent and one hopes that future books will be less about showing everyone how smart a person can be, and more about weaving a tale the reader can enjoy.
Read this book if: I honestly cannot recommend this book. It’s definitely not written for the masses, and seems like the kind of story you’d rework a whole bunch before publishing.
Full disclosure: I received this book for free from Curled Up With a Good Book. This has in no way affected my review, and I was not compensated for this review in any way.