Sunday, February 08, 2009

Apologize, Apologize!

Apologize, Apologize!by first time author Elizabeth Kelly is the Gothic tale of Collie Flanagan, named after the dog breed, a young man who has more tragedy and personal loss in his life before the age of twenty than many of us will see in a lifetime. A voice of calm and normalcy in a family of eccentric narcissists, Collie tries to make sense of his world and his role in it, while being the only family member who understands the real world outside of their privileged, yet shabby, Martha's Vineyard home. Living off his mother's trust fund, his Irish father and Uncle Tom spend their days drinking, carousing, and in the case of Tom, raising racing pigeons. His mother, only daughter and heir to the media fortune of Peregrine Lowell, graced with the moniker The Falcon by Collie and his brother Bingo, lives a life taking in stray dogs, donating money to causes, and attempting to prove that The Falcon killed her mother. He didn't, as far as we know.
The voice of Collie, our narrator, is confused and often bereft. He seems adrift on a sea of hugely choppy waves, tossing him about. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at some of the instances in the story where Uncle Tom accuses him of being a liar or stupid in a very reasonable, conversational tone. Anais, Collies mother, in her black and white world has determined that Bingo is the sweet, good son and Collie is not worth her time at all, and announces this whenever possible. It is obvious to the reader that Anais has some real mental issues, while Uncle Tom and Charlie are happy to have a roof over their heads and no need to work for a living.
I really didn't know what to think or how to feel when reading this debut novel. I have heard that great art makes the observer think, shakes them up, makes them uncomfortable. This book definitely did that for me. I kept waiting for someone to give Collie a hug and say that it was all just a big joke, this wasn't his family. With all of these people and energy around him, he seems so lonely, yet when he reflects back on events the reader did not experience with him, there is love and moments of family bonding.
If asked, I wouldn't know how to classify this story. The tag line on the cover reads, "about the family that puts the word personality in disorder," making it seem like the book will be funny, and to many people perhaps it is. Yet the picture on the cover of my advance copy is of a dog on a deserted beach, looking out on a deserted ocean, almost mournful, which it also one of the moods the book invoked in me. I've actually seen three different covers of the book, each giving me a different message, so the publishers were probably torn as to what they wanted the visual to say. Publisher's Weekly calls Collie's story a cross between Grey Gardens and The Royal Tennenbaums, and I definitely agree.
Rarely do I read a book and want to discuss it and get opinions from others, but I eagerly await my friends and family reading it and sharing their thoughts.Have you read Apologize, Apologize!yet? Please let me know what you think!

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Diane said...

Hi Elizabeth, Your blog is lovely! I really enjoyed looking through it. I thank you for stopping by my blog also. You are entered in One World-One Heart giveaway. I'll be back to visit again.

Mrs. B. Silly said...

Okay I think you need to slow down, I can't keep up with you!

Alicia @ Oh2122 said...

This sounds really good!

Into the Q it goes!