Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson by Bryan Furuness - Review

A woman makes up stories of the Devil's dad painting his portrait.1  A man has the idea for an indoor golf course.  A substitute-teacher goes to a rough-and-tumble café and for the polka music.  An Ordinary Boy realizes that he simply must be the Second Coming2.  The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson, the new book from Bryan Furuness perfectly captures that area of Northern Indiana known as “The Region,” with its feeling of empty space and jittery doldrum, where the mantra seems to be “Bizarre is better than boring.” 

The Golfdome is a primary set piece because even nature
cannot stop a hoosier from golfing.
In the story, young Revie Bryson’s life is shaken to pieces when his mother, who makes up “Lost Episodes” from the Bible, leaves one day to go be a movie star.3  The stretches over the following year as he and his father have to learn to cope with the change.  At times hilarious, at times tragic, the Lost Episodes brings us into Revie’s world.  As he grows far faster than any twelve-year old should, we see the people around him change even as the country utterly fails to. 

Furuness captures The Region4 with documentary precision.  I’ve been to the Region, I’ve smelled its air, and it smells just like the words in Furuness’s book.  I’ve been baffled by how fast children grow up there, how fast they have to.  Revie is a perfect example of this.  As the focus of the book, Revie is wonderfully genuine.   His antics to sabotage his father’s diet, his escapade with the camels, his attempts to manipulate his parents back into a relationship all had me going yeah, that’s how a kid from the Region would act

Burried in the fiction (which reads so much like memoir I had to keep reminding myself it was not, a la
"The universe is like a Toilet: everything swirls together
faster and faster in the end."
Towelhead)5 is quite a lot of philosophical introspection, especially on the nature of the universe, people, and religion.  The book makes no firm stance on faith, but does a good job portraying the faithful, from the priest who recurs as a sounding board for Revie’s emotions to his Grandmother, whose imperious palm reading was either dead on or way off.  How you call it says more about you than the character.6

If you’re from Indiana, especially The Region, this book is probably something you’d enjoy.  It's down-to-concrete tone gives you that feeling like getting in touch with an old friend and/or your inner self.  Alternatively if you’re from Florida, or California, or New York, or other places that only exist in the movies, but you like novels about local people doing local things and local…people7, this is also a good read.  Go pick it up.

"Anything that has Mass exerts Gravity.  You have mass, right?"
"I'm a Presbyterian."

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