Saturday, August 3, 2013
Author: Jeff Somers
Date Read: August 1, 2013
Summary: Mary and Bickerman are the center of their circle of friends--but these friends are strangers as well as family to them. In the course of year, under the influence of a stressful wedding and a whole lot of alcohol, relationships and nerves are twisted and broken as the dynamics of the cozy-seeming group shift. Secrets are kept, emotions withheld, and it doesn't look like it's going to end well for anyone.
Told always in first person, but not the same person, and unfolding in double-helix chronology that provides a "Rashomon"-like narration, "Chum" is the story of love, liquor, and death. goodreads
Review: I liked this book before I started to really know the characters. Initially, I felt I could relate to some of them and the story took me back to drunken college days and some fond memories but that is about where my relating stopped. As the story went on, I began to relate the whole novel to a night of boozing. In the beginning, you have a few drinks and start to feel the buzz which leads to good times and lots of socializing. You are having fun and making friends, albeit superficial. As the drinks increase, so does the excitement and poor decision making. But as the night progresses and the alcohol wears off, your true feelings and personality come to light (be that good or bad) and things aren't as entertaining. By the end of the book, when all of the true colors of the characters were revealed, it made me think of the morning after a night of debauchery (or motherf***ery, as in the story) when the alcohol has worn off and the hangover remains. Not a good feeling. I was disgusted by the majority of the characters, with the exception of maybe Kelly, and surprised at how weak their connections and loyalties to each other were. I think this book does a good job of showing how friendships can progress and regress based on certain events and the harsh reality that comes with seeing who a person actually is, rather than who you initially imagined.
As far as formatting goes, I liked the idea of different narrators who allowed us to see their unique perspectives on each event but for me, it got a little confusing. It took a page or two to figure out exactly who was narrating and the constant switching back and forth on the timeline caused me to have to stop and figure out where we were.