The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Bones, by Seth Greenland

I officially fell in love with Seth Greenland’s storytelling on page 192 of this book. Up to that point, it had been a flirtation, with the rarely-needed decision to overlook minor flaws. But on page 192, when I realized that he was giving me fully fleshed-out characters — and nothing but fleshed-out characters — and treating them all (or mostly) with great fairness and even compassion, well, that’s when I declared it love. Because nothing warms my heart more than a guy who gives me three dimensional characters. I love, love, love that in a man!

This is not to say that I loved all of his charaters. The title character, Frank Bones? Ick. What can you say about a person so self-centered, self-absorbed, and selfish that he steals his girlfriend’s post-op painkillers? You can say that he’s scum, for starters. But Frank makes sense to Frank, and seen over Greenland’s shoulders, we can only expect Frank to steal the painkillers, because that is what Frank would do. See, part of what I mean by saying that Greenland treats his characters fairly and with compassion is that Greenland makes them so full of who they are and consistent that he hardly ever sets them up. So when Frank is being a scumbag, that’s okay, because he’s not a cardboard, one-dimensional scumbag. He’s a complex, multi-dimensional scumbag. And he’s funny and entertaining and not always vile, and that makes him worth following.

At one point, before I fell in love with Greenland’s writing, I sort of wished he’d written the book about the women. Honey, the rightful owner of the post-op Vicodins? A very interesting woman, more interesting than Frank in my opinion, and Greenland has fun with her, too. You know the old cliche about dumb blondes in Hollywood getting breast implants? Honey’s implants make her smarter. And more assertive. And a better actress and a better person all around. The closest Greenland comes to creating a cardboard character is Stacy, who manages to surprise the reader eventually as well. Stacy is married to Lloyd, who wishes for more than his career as a successful writer of sitcoms. Be careful what you wish for, Lloyd.

So, what’s this book all about, anyway? Does it matter? Okay, it probably does. It’s about people in Hollywood, making it or trying to make it in some form of show business. It moves fast, because Frank is the main character (though I don’t think of him as the protagonist) and Frank moves fast. Lloyd, in his fantasies of breaking from his shell, allies himself with Frank at exactly the wrong moment, and his life is turned upside down. The book is more humorous than sad, and I still want a book about the women, but The Bones is brilliant and I feel fortunate to have stumbled across it. I recommend it.

As for animals, there’s nothing but a cat. No harm comes to the cat, so this book is ENTIRELY SAFE for animal lovers. Enjoy!

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September 1, 2009 - Posted by | beach book, Book Reviews | , ,

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