Tag Archives: Jonathan Evison

ALL ABOUT LULU by Jonathan Evison

Lulu Exciting news! I made it through one of the books in the huge TBR pile. I wrote about All About Lulu by Jonathan Evison last week – post is here – and actually finished it yesterday.

I feel like I am turning into a book curmudgeon – I haven’t really loved that many books lately. Unfortunately, I was kind of underwhelmed by this one as well. It’s about Will Miller, a boy growing up in the 70s in Southern California. (The story follows him through to his mid-twenties, with a short postcript at the end that presumably takes place at the present.) Will grows up with his bodybuilder father and younger twin brothers after his mother dies of cancer.  After a few years, his father remarries, to a woman with a daughter, Lulu, who is a bit older than Will. The two are inseparable for many years, with Will basically idolizing his stepsister, until she goes away to cheerleading camp and returns a changed person. She is distant and cold to him, which leaves him lost and devastated.

The book is about Will’s futile attempts to get over Lulu (for by the time she abandons him their friendship has turned into unrequited love on his end), and his obsession with her throughout his young adult years. Will also moves out of his father’s house, goes to community college, gets some marginally satisfying jobs, and doesn’t meet any other women. He does stay in touch, sporadically, with Lulu, and has some interludes with her at different times with mostly disastrous results. At the end, a secret is revealed which explains her change of heart toward him many years earlier.

I didn’t love this book. Here are some possible reasons:

  • At the risk of sounding immodest, I am a relatively stable person, and I lose patience with and cannot really relate to mentally unstable characters – particularly women – in books. (I am reminded of both Monica and Bits in Who By Fire – reviewed here.) I also get kind of annoyed when men are drawn in by said instability. Lulu falls into the category of unstable women.
  • It’s kind of a guy book. There was a pickup basketball game described in great detail, for example, which I completely skipped.
  • Some of the supporting characters were depressing and kind of unconvincing, though I think they were intended to be quirky and gems-in-the-rough.
  • In the end, I couldn’t really understand Will’s obsession with Lulu. I get that he was rebuffed by his best friend – one whom he was in love with – at a very vulnerable age, and that this clearly devastated his confidence in himself. But I just wanted to shake Will and say, “MOVE ON. There’s a whole world out there worth living.”

Jonathan Evison is a good writer. All About Lulu has a nice mix of humor, wry observation and sadness in it, and I’d like to read other books by him, to give him another chance. But this wasn’t the book for me.

For some more positive reviews (and they abound) about All About Lulu, check out:

Three Guys One Book

I Will Dare

ALL ABOUT LULU by Jonathan Evison

My TBR pile is out of control. Since I started blogging and researching books (not to mention requesting and receiving them (even unrequested) from publishers), I have amassed piles of books I want to read. Someday I will upload some photos of the various towers and shelves of books that are "next" on the to-read list.

In the meantime, rather than wait until I've read them to get the word out about these books, I thought I'd start featuring them on EDIWTB. Some of them have already been discussed, but I am going to start shedding light on the other ones that are currently waiting for exposure.

The first is All About Lulu by Jonathan Evison. From Amazon:

Lulu Evison's debut—of love and loss, growing up, throwing up and moving on—is a stunner. William Miller Jr. is a scrawny loner whose mother dies of cancer when he is seven years old, leaving him an awkward vegetarian with an ominously macho father and idiot twin brothers in mid-1970s Santa Monica. William's father, Big Bill, remarries a grief counselor named Willow, and Will spends the following decades in love with Louisa (Lulu, as she prefers to be called), his new stepsister. They are close throughout adolescence, but after a summer at cheerleading camp, Lulu returns home distant and hostile, leaving Will to pine for her in solitary desperation. Will finally appears to be on the path to normalcy in the early 1990s when he lucks into a radio talk-show hosting gig, but the stroke of good fortune is short-lived, as he discovers things about Lulu he'd rather not know. Evison provides readers a viciously funny and deeply felt portrayal of a blended family and one man's thwarted longing.

I learned about this book in a circular from the Elliott Bay Bookstore in Seattle, and requested a copy from the publisher, Soft Skull Press. Here are some blog reviews:

Minnesota Reads: "Basically this is a book about William Miller and the things that happened in his life. It might sound like a yawner, but it’s so not yawn-worthy at all. Will has an original and engaging voice. While Evison, the author, is coy about what happened to Lulu that summer choosing to dance around that information until a sort of climax, William, the character, is honest to the point of it being nearly painful. And it is awesome."

Largehearted Boy: "All About Lulu is an impressive debut novel, the moving story of a vegetarian, skinny boy in a family of bodybuilders who loses his mother and develops an obsession with his stepsister. Even the ancillary characters are well-written, and Evison shares surprises along the way in an incredibly satisfying read that seems way too short."

And here's an interview with Jonathan Evison about All About Lulu.

I will report back when I eventually read this book. It sounds excellent.