Saturday, December 15, 2012

An Average Story of an Average Life

Book Review: Fool by Frederick Dillen

Mind you, there is nothing wrong with average - it is of course that part of the bell curve under which most of us live. I am not one that believes that extraordinary writing must only refer to extraordinary characters; if that was true there would be few books worth reading indeed.

Writers like John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis made their mark writing amazing fiction about the less than amazing lives of nobodies not unlike you or me.

Sadly, Frederick G. Dillen's Fool fails to bring any resonance to the story of anti-hero Barnaby Griswold. The story doesn't reverbrate or reflect or amplify - which even a story about average people (for instance Lewis' Main Street or Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus) is capable of doing. It drifts along much as its protagonist does: directionless, incomplete, and unfulfilled.

Barnaby is not unlikable, although at times he doesn't much like himself; some of his fellow characters actually care about Barnaby. His actions, his goals, and his beliefs are not any different than many people you would meet in real life, or in really good fiction. The characters are believable, the plot sustainable - yet Fool doesn't quite bring it off.

Barnaby may consider himself a fluffmeister, of which there are plenty in this world, but he is not devoid of life. I did not expect Barnaby to come to any heroic revelations or noble enlightenment. However, his story comes across as no more substantial than a wallpaper tiger, leaving Barnaby no more than a cutout himself, and Fool only a moderately entertaining bit of fluff.