Two quick reviews of books that I found underwhelming –
Raising Cubby by John Elder Robison
You have to admire the subtitle for Raising Cubby – “A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives.” That sounds fun, right?!
You may be familiar with John Elder Robison – his first book was the impressive memoir, Look Me in the Eye, in which Robison tells the story of his own childhood with Asperger’s (although the label did not exist at that time). A lot of his story has stayed with me, particularly the parts about his difficulties finding and keeping jobs. In addition, Robison’s brother is Augusten Burroughs, author of a number of books, notably the memoir Running with Scissors, which is so crazy it reads like fiction.
Raising Cubby is a string of anecdotes, largely told in chronological order, about Robison’s experience raising his son, affectionately known as Cubby. Robison has a fairly unique approach to parenting and these provide the high points of the book including the fact that Cubby likes trains so they buy railroad shares and visit various rail-yards for ‘behind the scenes’ access; and when he tells Cubby that he came from the ‘baby store’ (the story is elaborate and quite sweet).
These stories are interspersed with the detail about Cubby’s growth and development – this is where the book fell down for me. Although some of the detail is interesting, it’s too repetitive. Furthermore, it’s stuff that’s pretty much common to all parents and kids.
2/5 An editor with a very big red pen probably would have made all the difference.
I received my copy of Raising Cubby from the publisher, Crown Publishing via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
KC, at Bat by Tom Mendicino
I picked up KC, at Bat because the blurb alluded to the fact that it was a baseball story. Odd but I happen to like baseball stories (Heft by Liz Moore and The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach come to mind). Unfortunately, despite the title and the jacket image, this wasn’t a baseball story – one character plays ball but it’s not the centre of the plot.
KC, at Bat is a coming-of-age story and although certain aspects of the plot were interesting (the main characters dealing with their sexuality, and the role of coach and athlete) the whole thing felt undercooked. Dialogue was weak, the motivation of some characters unclear and some important moments coincidental.
2/5 Not liking a character doesn’t usually put me off a book but honestly, Charlie was a prick by the end.
I received my copy of KC, at Bat from the publisher, Kensington Books via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.