Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review: Downtown Owl

The January selection for my Minneapolis book club was "Downtown Owl" by Chuck Klosterman. As I mentioned before, Klosterman is from my teeny tiny hometown of 500 people. He has made it quite big! I believe he has written about 5-6 books; his most popular book is Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, a book which examines popular culture. I actually own an autographed copy of all of his books, with the exception of his most recent book. I was the winning bidder at a silent auction held for a friend's mom's benefit. The books all sat on my shelf until one of the ladies in my book club picked Downtown Owl for our January selection! I am so glad I read it! Even though Klosterman says it is a work of fiction, some of the characters seemed awfully familiar. Like the football coach that impregnates a teenage girl. Yep, that happened folks. Talk about drama.

I'm getting ahead of myself here, though. To be brief, the book is basically about living in a small town in the middle of nowhere. If you want to get an idea of what it is like, then check out this book. It's an extremely accurate depiction. It touches on the fact that the quarterback of the football team will forever be hailed as the hometown hero. It introduces the reader to a small group of farmers that congregate at the local cafe to discuss life and politics. Lastly, it illustrates the heavy reliance on drinking for entertainment that is prevalent in the culture of a small town .

Only 3 of us were able to make it to book club; we all grew up in small towns in North Dakota, so enjoyed the book. I am curious if others who didn't grow up in a small town enjoyed it!

Our next book is "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield. I read this over a year ago so plan on re-reading it since the details are a bit foggy. I remember really enjoying it and thinking it was beautifully written. I can't wait to re-read it! Especially now that I am practicing more 'active' reading, which means I am marking up passages that resonate with me so I can go back and re-visit them!

Have you read Downtown Owl or any of Klosterman's books? What did you think? Also, how big was the town where you were raised? Wyndmere had a population of 500 people! That's tiny!!

15 comments:

Nicole said...

I graduated from high school with 800 other students. So yeah, not so much a small town. I'd probably guess about 50-60K.

My only experience with reading a book that seemed familiar was when I read Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. He was from Indiana, too, and some of the street names in the book were places I knew.

I'maNolaGirl said...

I'm very intrigued by this book! I have just started The Help and am loving it. Maybe this'll be next!

I grew up in New Orleans which is not a small town, but it often feels like it!

J said...

I grew up in the suburbs first in a small town and then moved closer to the city. I really have no idea how many people there are in my town but its a lot! Too many if you ask me!

Abby and Ryan said...

I can't wait to read this book. I plan on reading it during my spring break in March!! :) GLad to hear it is good as it sounds/appears!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I grew up in a small town and I completely understand what you mean about people relying on drinking. That's absolutely what people in my town are like and STILL LIKE and I just find it really sad.

Sounds like an interesting book - how cool that he was from your hometown and writing about it! AND made it big time :)

Nora said...

I haven't ever read his books but I do hear great things about them. (Irish was an avid Klostermann fan.)

I grew up in StL for the most part, so graduated with 400 people. I think there's something like 2 million people in St. Louis?In my suburb I believe there's 40,000 alone. And growing, I'm sure.

Becky said...

I've heard of Klosterman. OMG though I can't imagine growing up in a town that small! My (high school) graduating class was 700!

Mandy said...

As someone who has grown up in and still living in a small town I am incredibly intrigued by this book. I've never read it though some of the scenarios are incredibly familiar.

I gradated with 120 some odd kids, ours was the biggest class in ages so yeah. Definitely a small town.

Anais said...

I've never heard of him but I definitely want to give his books a read now!!!

I loved the Thirteenth Tale. I started reading it a while back and then stopped because I couldn't get into it, but I picked it up against last winter and read the rest in a day!! So yeah, surprisingly good :)

Marlys said...

Lisa, thought I should tell you that Chuck's Dad was recently released from the hospital after a mild heart attack, finding 3 abdominal aneurysms, and low hbg requiring 5 units of blood! He is a walking time bomb! He & and wife are so proud of Chuck, although I doubt they have read his books - family told them they shouldn't as they are ultra conservative and deeply religious, so might find some content alarming!

Carolina John said...

i get the same way with David Sedaris. He's from raleigh, and some of the little quirks that his characters have are only found in people in raleigh. weird.

love klosterman though. he writes for esquire as well, which is one of my favorite magazines.

Little Fish said...

My graduating class from HS was 555students and was one of the smallest classes they've ever had. Classes typically are between 700-900 kids and it's not a regional HS, all of the students come from my hometown. The town probably has around 50,000 people so I'm gonna go with no, I'm not from a small town. :-)

crystal said...

Im so excited to read this now!! As a small town ND girl also (thompson: 1,000!) I am sure I will be able to relate :)

pinkflipflops said...

Yeah I moved and then grew up in a small town. I had 89 kids in my graduating class.. fun times.. NOT.. That book sounds good.

Kelly said...

It's so funny reading your blog right now because I was just talking to my fiance about how I cannot picture living in a small town without a city so close like I have. The town I grew up in is a suburb so I think it had in the 30,000 range...
There were 300 something in my graduating class so clearly we were a BIT above 500 haha. I might have to check out this book!