Busy Monsters by William Giraldi

Untrustworthy narrators and damaged, dark heroes are all the rage these days. Busy Monsters adds to this a deranged, dangerous dork with a penchant for hyperbole and excessive verbosity. The novel follows Charlie as he loses his girlfriend to a biologist in search of a great squid. He tries to win her back by firing holes at their occupied boat trying to sink it. It reminded me of Oscar Pistorius firing into the door of the bathroom in which his terrified wife hid and was killed. I’m sorry, but when your narrator immediately starts off being a reckless, demented ass, you just sort of lose interest in the whole thing. I am pretty sure the author was on Ritalin or Adderall when he was writing this novel. As a writer and also a user of Ritalin, I can tell. Before Ritalin, writers used speed like Jack Kerouac who was on speed when he wrote On the Road, a nonstop stream of consciousness that was unreadable. There is much to be said for stimulants. For quite some time, I had writer’s block, but fueled up on Ritalin, I was able to break through and write blazing fast and finish three or four books each only taking a few weeks to complete front to back. However, stimulants are like freeways. You can go fast, but you can’t maneuver well or explore new terrain. Hopefully, you’ve thought enough about the unchartered plot and territory enough so that all you’re doing is writing down what is already in your head. In other words, you can’t be all that creative on stimulants. You have to be creative beforehand whether on booze, psychedelics or just plain creative, rebellious, unconventional thinking and musing. But creativity means you don’t want to sit and write it all down. That’s boring. Creativity means you want to think about something new and different and not rehash what you have already imagined and thought. That’s when stimulants become effective in getting you to sit down, three hours at a time and just vomit it all out. I like to say that writing is like purging. It is a release not a push. There’s something toxic and disturbing in your psyche or memory, and you just want to get it all out.

There is nothing particularly interesting or creative about this novel. The narrator just goes off on one ill-begotten deluded adventure after another, a mere variation of theme, and it almost seemed to be ripping off Forrest Gump with all these fantastical journeys while he’s trying to get over his love of a woman. I skimmed the second half of the book. Again, another book written by some nerd dork who probably has to make up all the adventures in his mind, because in real life, he’s too much of a wuss to go out and make things happen. In the novel, he even has to rely on a big, bad Navy SEAL to help him beat up the guy who stole his girl. The narrator reminds me of those annoying asses at bars who talk endless without letting you get a word in and invariably about some long lost love, because the ex too got tired of him talking endlessly and being boring and spitting out beer as he talks. Just annoying. I really hate people like this. Get socialized, get a life, do something adventurous, then write a novel.



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