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Skinny Dipping Into Books

I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea.  and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.


I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,

Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.

time spent in that before bed reading slot:

5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago  2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.

How are common themes handled?

5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power  4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates  1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.

Where would you keep it post-reading?

5-Next to my bed.  4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.

Emotional response-

5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry.
3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 
2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.

Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):

5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy

Currently reading

The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
Alissa Nutting, Alissa Nutting

suffered through this one, and more so than Andrew

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley - Shaun Hutchinson

So, ill be up front; this book was an absolute failure.

Ben is convinced he killed his family, and for all intensive purposes, no matter how you frame it, he did. After the accident no one seems to notice that a 17 year old has vanished from the ER and is living in the hospital. The curious thing is that the ER seems to never have enough patients, so I find it bewildering that they would have lost a patient when three of the other people in the accident had died. Plus, do you really, honestly change that much with long hair that you wouldn’t be noticed by those who treated your family or by those seeing your mug plastered all over the TV and hospital……..?

He takes residence in the hospital, finding a space to hide and sleep that has been abandoned, construction halted because of ‘budget cuts’. He steals things; clothes, ipods, money, etc. He also takes clothes from the bin, which is gross, gross because honestly who wears dirty scrubs?

He befriends a small group of friends, all of which are adults, except for three kids his age. The relationships with the adults pretty much give him an all access ‘black card’ (like a credit card) to roam the hallways, without question. The familiarity of his presence to those beyond this social circle also permits him to be ignored, like some sort of wallpaper.

He has two friends on Peds; Lexi and Trevor. Trevor has end stage cancer and Lexi is pretty much just wedged in her room, studying for school, and has pretty much gone into remission aside from a treatment here and there.

He spies the ER and only witnesses about two really grueling events. Anyone spend time in an ER? It is a nasty fucking place. One event is a hate crime of a kid his age. He ends up stalking this fellow, and falls in love with him. An assortment of inappropriate things occur, most of which would not be permitted in even the worst hospitals. You’d have to have some really neglectful and lawsuit-ridden policies and a complete lack of supervision to get away with these things.

Oh, and ‘death’ is all over his shit. By death I mean a social worker.  What What?

He is obsessed with death that just happens to be a counselor. This is troubling on so many levels, but lets outline the top 3.

1.    It really isn’t clarified why this kid thinks this person is death.
2.    Is it really developmentally appropriate for a 17 year old, of typical development, to think a shrink is death?
3.    Thanks so much for portraying therapists, and therefore mental health in a negative way. Yeah, in a country plagued with vast degrees of mental health, and a profession that is often regulated to second, it is a wise choice to make DEATH a therapist.  As a social worker I have one thing to say…. FUCK YOURSELF.

This book is full of tedious and absurd things. Lets do an outline…

He befriends the ER doctors, and this is where the absurdity begins. On more than one occasion he is allowed to just hang out in the ER. Basically it becomes his second home.

Once in the ER a kid, 5 I believe, arrives dead. He convinces one of the ER doctors, who is also gay (fucking surprise there… right? Original. An older sadder gay version of Ben. Sorry I mean Drew).  Drew/Ben convinces this guy that he should be able to give CPR to the dead boy.  WTF?!!??!!?!?

While in the ER he is hiding, where—I don’t know—, and he observes a kid, Russell, that comes in with massive burns, which are suggested to be from a hate crime.

It starts off slow. Sure, maybe this kid gets into the intensive care, maybe. But he starts to do a lot of visits, and the frequency and length of them becomes more than questionable. Steve, the aging-eats-pizza-alone-gay-guy allows him to come in. Mind you this kid, Russell, is burnt on his hands, chest, and arms. I am assuming that infection is a pretty big threat, so are strangers allowed in his room?

He is allowed to work in the Café, but no one questions this, and no paper work is filled out. HR must be sleeping. He is also paid under the table, because, you know, zero oversight for any money that comes into the café and out of the café.

Russell is given morphine. Anyone in a hospital knows that this is really a sugar pill. It provides minimal pain relief. YES, if the pain is minimal then yes you may administer morphine (traditional in burn victims), but this is a total body burn, and on more than one occasion he is in such grueling pain that one of the nurses goes into a corner and cries. Sorry, but no. According to a few medical friends of mine, he would also be sedated at first, probably with a low level Bezos. Where is glycemic control? According to these same friends, nurses and one doctor, he would be provided with dilaudid on contact w/ an ER and a sedative, but also dilaudid for break through pain, and if morphine didn’t work, an oxi.

Where the hell is trauma support? If death is this random assigned social worker shouldn’t she be in his room on a regular basis? He was subjected to a hate crime, one that almost burnt his entire body.

A nurse, ‘Nurse Merchant’ allows this Ben free access to lazily just wonder into peds whenever he wants.

Let’s be honest, that little roof top excursion is basically kidnapping patients. There are no repercussions. Where the hell is security?

He pretends to be a nurse’s assistant, and with the help of Steve and those absent-minded ER nurses, kidnaps patients. They even help arrange and execute a very detailed plan. He is then allowed, after being caught kidnapping patients, to visit these kids again!

No one realizes or witnesses how disheveled this kid gets.  The timeline is the summer, so his hair grows long, he is stealing peoples’ clothing, and no one notices that this kid spends an obscenely long time in the hospital; ok one person notices. Once he is discovered no real interventions are set in place; no cops involved.

Other annoyances…

Themes of “people wearing masks”, or having different personas are looked at with an obsessive focus that has very little relevance to the story.

Brisk and chipped sentences are injected in a manner that doesn’t really serve any role. It doesn’t reflect changes in mood or affect. It doesn’t indicate any sort of resurgence of trauma.

Aside for a few nightmares there is little PTSD or trauma related mental health issues for dear Ben…Drew… Andrew.

NO ONE checks up on his last name, a name that is shared by another patient.

The author often excludes “He/she (inserts name) said”. Hemmingway did this, but you sir just flourished in failure when trying to employ this technique, though I think it wasn’t actually intentional, which makes it even more egregious. While it is true that you can use one dialog tag (for fuck sake don’t combine an action in a dialog tag), you have to do it with consistency. You can’t, for instance use one and expect the writer to follow along when the author, for no apparent reason, decide to break it up between paragraphs. Yup, I get the great function of dialog tags/beat tags, but there wasn’t enough here to support who was talking and when he/she was talking.

There are no persons of color, but honestly, in the real world this sometimes happens. Some of you may take offense to this, but I didn’t really have an issue.

There are cutesy little lines like “(example of something), (metaphor)”. All well and good, and really pleasing for a reader, but this form is exhausting when used in excess. On that note, some of the metaphors seem to just be thrown in there for effect and nothing more.

Great premise, as well as a good start, but the level of absurdity just destroyed this novel.