I finished the strange book.
Generally it tumbled gracefully forward in the same manner which I had described last time. But it did so entertainingly. The weaving in and out of the fictional realities remained captivating…up until the end. I am sad to say that I did not so much care for the ending. Actually, the outcome I very much expected given the increasing hints throughout the piece. Yet it did have some other startling moments. The most salient of these, though, comes in the part that disappointed me. Kensington Gardens utilizes one of those hackneyed devices. The kind you can envision a literary professor professing to never use. You know, as in: And they awoke from the dream. (Not the one used in this book.) It just left me cold. Something so grandly knitted together deserves not to fray.
One of my favorite sections is a description of a grand party his parents, you remember, the rockstars, gave one wild evening. It goes on for 10 and half pages in an ‘endless’ list of celebrities who attended. Each celebrity received a comment in parenthesis. Glib comments about what they wore, what they drank, who they spoke to and why, what they did, etc. Each a little quip. Here’s an example: Truman Capote (that voice like fingernails on a blackboard singing some song from The Mikado over and over again all night…) I genuinely laughed out loud several times on the train. It has a build to it with recurring jokes (both commentary and people) and is worth picking up the book to read this part alone.
Overall I have mixed feelings about what I “got out of” the book. To me it seemed as if he suggested that children’s fantasy fiction is a kind of infection. The allure and “promise” of heroes with implausible but delicious powers…ones that in our present state of reality are not actually going to happen. The child soon learns the sad fact. And yet characters always outlive the author. Their “impossible” feats will always cause pain. It always ends in let down. He says authors write to take revenge against the world that would not realize the fantasy, spreading the infection. I’m not so sure I can agree but then it’s hard not to see a logic. As I said, mixed feelings. Still, I could be reading too much into it and making a fabrication of the real message of a fake author whose history is invented into our reality…
However, I did not have mixed feelings about two omissions. These occurred in yet another list of famous people. This one did not prove as long. Only about a page. It recounts all those who have played Peter Pan. It contains parenthetical comments again, but more so about trivia. Here is the first “omission” that bothered me. Jean Arthur (with Boris Karloff as Captain Hook); Mary Martin; Mia Farrow (who doesn’t need to cut her hair…) Back up. Where is Mary Martin’s parenthetical? How in the Neverland could he not comment on her? Here’s the other: and finally Peter Pan as a boy savage in the film directed by the Australian P.J. Hogan. And his name? I don’t get it. Why would he fail to mention Jeremy Sumpter? I have mixed feelings about Hogan’s movie itself. But I, for one, adore Jeremy’s portrayal of Peter. Perhaps Peter Hook/Fresán did not agree and disliked his performance. Could be - yet he obviously has no trouble slamming two other celebrities by name here: and Spielberg’s terrible Peter Pan, played by terrible Robin Williams (an adult, amnesiac Peter Pan) Perhaps the book published prior to its casting/release? No, the movie preceded publication by two years. Why, then, omit his name? It just irks me. Jeremy Sumpter (the fantastic first live-action boy Peter Pan) There.
Well, all in all, it’s a hell of a read. Despite the “oh please…” epilogue of sorts, I enjoyed having my brain jostled by this one.
One other thing…the author (Fresán) does address the notion of using real people fictionally in a footnote. Interesting that he put quotations around the word real.
And yes, that's John Lennon on the left there. The Beatles factor heavily into what's growing in the fertile mind of Fresán's Kensington Gardens.