The Enthusiast, by Charlie Haas (14 September — 21 September)

The descriptions I’ve read of this book are very deceiving. I thought I was looking at a light-hearted romp through the life of a guy working for enthusiast magazines (like Kite Buggy and Crochet Life), but it’s really only the second part of that.

We meet Henry Bay as an idealistic kid who wants to become a public-interest lawyer because of his dad, who got laid off when his company’s management took all the money and ran. Fun! But he gets to college and starts working for a public-interest lawyer and simply isn’t happy, so he takes an offer to come work for Kite Buggy, a magazine he once wrote an article for. But enthusiast magazines aren’t exactly stable employment, and Henry ends up moving from magazine to magazine, never settling down, never caring much about settling down, and never really happy. Eventually he does settle down, just in time for his brother, the uptight scientist, to start cutting loose, which really changes Henry’s perspective on life.

This book kind of reminded me of On the Road, what with Henry’s transient-ness and the whole finding-yourself vibe and the real lack of plot. I was rather enjoying that, but then the part with the brother happened, and some really strange things happened that I’m not sure a) made any sense or b) added to Haas’s story, except maybe to say that taking risks is bad? I don’t know.

I’m actually really excited that this is the first book for my new book club; I wasn’t too sure it was going to be good when I started reading it (and am still not sure!), but it’s definitely raised a lot of questions that I’ll be glad to get opinions on.

Rating: 7/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2009)

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