Hello everyone! Welcome to my tour stop for My Year As A Clown which includes my review.
Title: My Year As A Clown
Author: Robert Steven Williams
Publisher: Against The Grain Press
Published: December 20, 2012
Source: Received in Exchange for an Honest Review
My Rating: 3 Stars
Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
With My Year as a Clown, Williams introduces us to Chuck Morgan, a new kind of male hero—imperfect and uncertain—fumbling his way forward in the aftermath of the abrupt collapse his 20-year marriage.
Initially, Chuck worries he’ll never have a relationship again, that he could stand in the lobby of a brothel with a hundred dollar bill plastered to his forehead and still not get lucky. But as his emotionally raw, 365-day odyssey unfolds, Chuck gradually relearns to live on his own, navigating the minefield of issues faced by the suddenly single—new routines, awkward dates, and even more awkward sex.
Edited by Joy Johannessen (Alice Sebold, Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom), My Year As a Clown will attract fans of the new breed of novelists that includes Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper and Tom Perrotta. Like others in that distinguished group, Robert Steven Williams delivers a painfully honest glimpses into the modern male psyche while writing about both sexes with equal ease and grace in a way that’s both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. What initially drew me to the story was the fact that this was divorce told from the male perspective. So often, we read stories that are centered on women and their heartbreak and pain after divorce, rarely do we see the same situation told from a male perspective. The story itself is interesting, and the writing flows really well. It's written in a journalistic style, chronicling the first year after Chuck's wife leaves him. Sometimes the style can be clunky or awkward, but this is executed well.
There were things I liked about Chuck, and things that annoyed me. I liked the fact that he actually acknowledged his emotions instead of always trying to bury them. He did a lot of that too, with drugs and alcohol, but there were times when he tried to work through his feelings and actually worked on his own self improvement. It may have been with alterior motives involving women, but there was a genuine edge to it as well.
One of the more frustrating aspects of his character was that many of the major life events that he recalls are hinged on the football season. Maybe this was the author's way of making it more palatable, but I found it irritating. He and his wife's honeymoon was pushed back a day due to a football game. Another time, Claudia proposes that they move to England, and again, it's declined on his part in majority (I felt) due to football playoffs.
Claudia was just as frustrating as Chuck's character, but in a different way. We don't really see much of her, mostly just Chuck's recollections. And there's not really a buildup leading up to her departure. Although if I were her and married to someone who pushed back important life events due to sports, I'd probably be peeved too. There is a lot more to the reasons they split than that, but that's a sore point throughout the novel.
Both of them come out to be jerks, (although Chuck does redeem himself by the end.) and there were times where I just wanted to smack both of them because they couldn't get it together.
I wish that the music aspect had been explored more thoroughly. I felt kind of smothered by Chuck's writing material. I also didn't care for some of the religious/spiritual aspects of the book. I understand that it was Chuck exploring his heritage and his connection to that, but I feel that the whole drama with the rabbi and especially the twist on that were completely unneccessary. I was more interested in hearing about past endeavors with musicians, and really liked the interactions between him and Sally.
Overall, I'm still not sure how I feel about this. I liked the writing a lot, but some of the plot points were unneccesary. I'd be mildly curious to see what happens further with Chuck. All in all, the book was okay. Not bad, not great, just middle of the road for me.
That being said, if you're looking for a unique perspective on divorce, I'd recommend giving this a try.