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The snow never came, so we met in person this month at the Lone Tree Library to discuss Suburban Dicks by Fabian Nicieza. This was the first book in a new series by the Argentinian-American writer from New Jersey, who is best known for his work on comic books—specifically Deadpool and X-Men.

Many of us watched the youtube interview or read the print interview, with the author. He explained that he’d always wanted to write a novel (being a reader of authors like Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton, Louise Penny, and Janet Evanovich). Note that at least 2 of those authors write quite a bit of humor in their books.

Suburban Dicks was his first foray into the world of full-length fiction and for the most part, it was well received by the group. None of us seemed to love it (no scores of 10) but none of us hated it (only 1 score below 5). What I found interesting is that those who gave it a 7 or 8 had some of the same comments as those who gave it a 5, namely that the whole pregnancy thing with Andrea got old—especially since most readers found that the author focused on her size and look rather than the other issues of pregnancy.

The positives: we liked the humor; many liked Andrea’s character (but few liked Kenny); it was light reading (although some thought that once you got into the racism, there was a deeper feel to it); the characters were believable; when taken as a farcical look at suburban New Jersey, it was very funny. Amy went on walks to listen and didn’t shorten her walk to get home faster and stop – high praise. Sharon K thought that it was whiney, but smart whiney, and better than our other whiney books (I can only imagine she’s referring to my good friend Lo from The Woman in Cabin 10).

The Negatives: as stated above, the pregnancy just got old and exhausting; some didn’t care for Andrea as a character; we were bored; the book didn’t stay with us (for those who read it awhile ago); and it just wasn’t a great book.

What we agreed on: we liked The Cellulitists and we thought that Andrea’s husband, Jeff, was a giant man-baby. I think we also agreed that the main murder from the 50s seemed to be such a mess. Why didn’t they mark where they buried the bones so they could move them? It was a bit tenuous that the poor clerk’s death was because of pool permits related to the shoddy job of burying of said bones.

It was handy that Joel grew up in NYC because we were commenting on how stupid it was that Jeff needed Andrea to drop him off and pick him up every day from the train station (see aforementioned man-baby). We’re all like – get a car, park at the train, carpool, get an Uber, walk home. Apparently, it’s very expensive to park at train stations, Ubers are also expensive, and it’s easy to miss a train and take another one 10 minutes later, so commuting with another person in your neighborhood isn’t feasible. We were glad for the insight. Apparently the author, who lives in suburban New Jersey, was creating an accurate depiction of life there.

We also agreed that a lot was excluded to from Andrea’s past and it seemed like we were reading book 2 or 3 in a series. Some have read The Self Made Widow (second in this series) and said that it was better than the first. I think readers learn a bit more about Andrea too. We were split down the middle as to whether we will read book 2 or not.

We talked about suspending reality and, like any book, if we like it, we will suspend. If we don’t like it, it’s harder to suspend and things just seem unrealistic. It really broke down to the fact that those who enjoyed the book were able to suspend reality and go along for the ride. Those who weren’t taken with it found it hard, and therefore slugged through. Many said they would not have picked the book up (based on the description) if we weren’t reading it for a book club. Allie actually picked it up awhile ago and the racism got to her and she put it down again.

The scores were: one 9 (Sharon L emailed this one in), five 8s, five 7s, four 6s, six 5s, and one 4.

Thank you to Cindy for sending out the character list and summary of author interviews. Thanks to Susan for bringing snacks (and Cindy for saving us some of those library cookies). And thanks to Lisa, who is our water sponsor for the year.

Next month we will also meet in person to discuss Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney. I will lead and Gail will bring snacks.

REMEMBER: MARCH WILL BE VIRTUAL FOR ALL.

See you February 27.

Kerry

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