It takes an extraordinary intelligence to contemplate the obvious. – Alfred North Whitehead
Pardon me while I channel my inner Buddy the Elf: I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it! Yes, I’m in love with Alan Fletcher, quite possibly one of the most guileless characters ever to live in my fictional world, and very probably one of the most shamelessly uncomplicated and loveable men I’ve ever read.
Muscling Through is told in Al’s voice, and I can tell you the precise moment I fell in love with him:
I don’t know what they did with all the crusts from the sandwiches. Maybe they put them out for the birds after everyone had gone home. It’d be a shame to waste them.
See, this is Alan Fletcher in a single thought. He is utterly transparent in the simple kindnesses and entirely simple in the way he thinks and feels. The true beauty of Alan, though, is that if you judged him by his looks alone, he would be the sort of man you might instinctively fear, which is what Lawrence Morton did when he first stumbled upon Al taking a whizz in a dark alley one night. Larry was ready to offer up his wallet and any other valuables to Al, for the sake of self-preservation. All Al wanted to do was to make sure Larry made it home safely, which he did, and then he hid the kitchen knives. Don’t worry, that’ll make sense when you read the book. And it’s hysterical.
There were quite a few giggle-out-loud moments through the book, due entirely to the fact that Al is so obtuse in a charming and uncomplicated way. It’d be easy to dismiss him if it weren’t for the contrast of his looks and his gentle, artistic spirit—well, gentle as long as he’s not busy being drunk and disorderly. But that will also make sense when you read the book and understand the huge contrast between Al and Larry, and the conclusions that are jumped to. Appearances can be deceiving, yes?
I realize it’s early days yet, but this book could very easily make it on to my Top Reads of 2013 list; that’s how much I adored it. It’s filled with heart and humor and colorful characters drawn with a rainbow palette of quirks and mannerisms that even when I wasn’t particularly fond of them—ahem, Larry’s parents—I couldn’t help but love the way they’d come to life.
Oh, and P.S., be sure to read the “About the Author” blurb, and then when you get to the part about punting and champagne, don’t even try and tell me you didn’t smile just a little bit when you thought of Larry. :-)