Marie’s Reading: “Schroder” by Amity Gaige

schroderI’m back with Amity Gaige’s new novel, Schroder–just like I promised I would be!

Just hear Erik Kennedy out.  He has good reasons for taking his daughter on an unscheduled vacation.  He’s even got good reasons for fabricating his identity at age fourteen.   Over the course of his story, which he is writing from a correctional facility, he’ll tell you all about his childhood in East Germany, his love for his wife and daughter, and his fateful decision to become Erik Kennedy.

This was a treat to read.  The narrator is so very very misguided and flawed, perhaps even completely nuts.  Yet he’s so charming about it.  For a very long while you think, “Oh, this man, this Erik, he’s just a trifle strange.  He’s had a tough life, had a lie go too far.  But he loves his wife and daughter, and just made a mistake.”

And then you read a bit further and realize…no.  Erik might actually be pretty crazy.   Then, yeah, probably definitely pretty crazy.

All the while, though, the prose is elegant and surprisingly funny, with moments that bring you up short with perfect turns of phrase.  (One of my favorites, where Erik talks about the park where he’d take his daughter: “When she was a tot she had feasted on its wood chips”)  A real joy, provided you like unreliable narrators, not necessarily happy endings, and quirkily elegant writing.  Get in Erik Schroder’s head for a while and hear him out.  It’s worth it.

For your next read, you might try An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England or The Silver Linings Playbook.  They both deal with secrets, running from the past, and have narrators that, while entertaining, are not always for sure completely…there.

–Marie

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