wayfarers all

children's literature, childhood and culture (and anything else that strikes my fancy).

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Location: pittsburgh, U.S. Outlying Islands

carbon-based life form: thinking, reading and gardening. New College alum; current grad student writing a dissertation. I specialize in children's literature, media, and culture, and queer/gender studies, with a strong interest in 19th century British literature and culture. I like history, a lot.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bucking the Sarge - brilliant!

Yesterday I finished reading Christopher Paul Curtis's latest novel - Bucking the Sarge. It's a departure from his earlier historical fiction in a couple of ways: it's definitely, definitely a contemporary setting, and it's also more of a YA novel (Luther, the narrator and Hero, is 15).

Curtis is, in my opinion, a master of first-person narrative voice. In each of his three novels, the protagonist/narrators have utterly convincing, compelling voices and personalities, each different from one another. I LOVE Curtis's use of language in Bucking the Sarge - both in capturing Luther's teenage slang, and in some clever playing around with language (a pun on "Luther" and "Loser" made me laugh out loud). Luther is a wonderful mix of brains, street smarts and naivete, but I *never* felt the urge to laugh at him. Curtis manages to avoid winking over the heads of his characters, instead allowing them to be supremely human, good, bad, sad and funny.

It's a cleverly constructed book as well - flashback sequences interwoven with present-day sections, all leading up to the most subtly crafted climax.

I laughed out loud more than once while reading the novel - in particular, a scene with a very special character named Chauncey toward the end had me almost in laughing tears.

My only regret is that the book ended at all - although I have to wonder about the possibility of a sequel? I would be delighted to read more of the philosophical wisdom of Luther T. Farrell.


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