by Michael Snyder
Author website: http://www.michaelsnyderwrites.com/
Available in paperback. Zondervan, 2008; ISBN: 0310277272; 368 pages.
Michael Snyder is a member of one of my online writing forums. Not long ago we had a discussion about genre. His answer to the “what do you write” question is this: neurotica. After laughing at his stories of appalled reactions to this, I finally connected that this Michael Snyder is the same Michael Snyder who wrote Russell Fink, the book friends have been nudging me for months to read. My interest piqued, I bought and packed the book for vacation.
I now understand the difficulty in pinning down his genre. This book is a humorous, contemporary not-quite mystery with a romantic thread, faith veins and lots of …neurotica. The result is touching and hysterical. In an interview the author stated: “What interests me most is what’s happening around us right now, the wealth of humanity and unique predicaments in the house across the street. Almost anyone you meet is all at once funny, interesting, unique, and filled with love and fear and hate and peculiar notions about how life is supposed to work.” This is exactly what he writes.
This debut novel details about five weeks in the life of Russell Fink. He’s a broke hypochondriac, who may or may not have cancerous moles, stuck in a job he hates and still living with his parents, whom he doesn’t trust. During the course of the book he investigates the murder of his dog, gets kicked out of parents’ house, tries not to get fired (without actually doing any work), discovers he’s in love with someone who isn’t his fiancé (a wanna-be actress) and somehow stumbles upon faith.
The character development is fantastic, some of the best I’ve read. At first I felt the story was just about a lovable loser, but it’s much more than that. It’s hysterically funny and touching. These kooky characters, simultaneously wild and believable, brought me to embarrassing out-loud laughter and even tears.
And if that’s not enough, you’ll find a cool flip-book at the bottom of the pages. Nothing like watching a cartoon dog run to make you love a book.
Final Thoughts: I’m not going to say this is one of my all-time favorite novels, but I really enjoyed it and I’ll definitely recommend it to those who share the right sense of humor.