Thursday, March 1, 2007

Larry's Party

"Larry's Party," by Carol Shields, is about the life of a guy named Larry. Larry seems to think he has a pretty ordinary life, but as you get to know the various characters and hear all the anecdotes, it adds up to a very rich and interesting life. Larry's parents immigrate to Canada (for a reason which is so awful and yet so funny that I wouldn't dream of spoiling it for you) and raise him and his sister in lower-middle-class neighborhood. His mother orders a brochure from the community college about "Furnace Repair" but by accident receives one about "Floral Arts" instead. So Larry gets a degree in Floral Arts. As Larry sees it, much of his life involves stumbling into various places and relationships without really intending to go in that direction. Larry literally stumbles through a maze on his honeymoon, and develops an obsession with mazes that turns into a career.
There is a lot of humor in this book (how seriously can you take a book with a chapter titled, "Larry's Penis"?) but the characters and situations seem very real. Larry has a tendency to look at his life and think, "how the heck did I end up here, doing this?" which I have often wondered about myself. But the pieces of Larry 's life really do fit together in a fascinating way. I liked this book a lot.

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