A few months ago, I got asked to review two books for the Oregonian. This can be a total crap shoot. In fact, the first book, while well-written, was an unremitting downer.
And then I opened the next book, Model Home, by Eric Puchner. It’s the story of a family in California in mid-1980s. The dad, Walter, has moved them there so they can get rich, rich, rich off a housing development.
Things do not go as planned. Hilariously.
One night I stayed up until 2 am reading Model Home and laughing. Even on weeknights, I am in bed by midnight.
Puchner writes from the POV of all five family members. Here’s a snippet from 16 year old Lyle’s POV (Lyle is a girl, her nickname is short for Delilah):
"Lyle slid down in her seat. There were several things that embarrassed her about her mother's Volvo: (1) it had her mother in it; (2) there was a Post-it note on the steering wheel that said RECYCLE BOTTLES; (3) the stereo was typically playing something called 'Come, Ye Makers of Song'; (4) they were often mistaken for people with special needs because her mom insisted on signaling before pulling into a parking space."
I went to hear Puchner read when he came to Powells. A lot of new authors won’t have many folks in the audience, but it turns out his FIL lives here and he must have gotten everyone he knew to come out. Most of the people near me seemed to have never been to a reading before, but Puchner was so funny and warm that afterward everyone lined up to buy a book.
This is my review.
This is the review from the NY Times. (Warning: contains some spoilers!)