Review: Citizen Dick by Richard Arneson
Author: Richard Arneson
Publication: PeyBro Books, 2010 (self-published)
Rating: 1 Bookmark
Source: The Cadence Group
A meandering tale of Corporate America rife with eccentric characters, implausible situations, errors, and quirky subplots.
I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: I don’t enjoy writing critical book reviews and they take much longer to compose than glowing ones. Though Book, Line, and Sinker may not be The New York Review of Books, I do take my responsibilities as a reader and reviewer seriously and want to maintain integrity on my book blog, which is why I strive to be as honest as possible. I’ve never been published (and have the rejection letters to prove it), but it’s implicit that even blog posts can be criticized–it’s the risk an author takes when putting him or herself out there.
Typically, I don’t accept self-published material but made an exception to my rule because the novel sounded quirky enough to pique my interest. I did some research on the author, Richard Arneson, and found that he wrote and edited Citizen Dick while his wife was undergoing treatment for a second bout with cancer. I vacillated wildly when drafting this review; should I nitpick and point out errors that might only be typos, or report candidly even though Arneson was dealing with his wife’s illness and his two young sons while proof-reading? Should things like that even matter in a book review?
Ultimately, a few of the errors stuck in my craw: misspelling the a title of a Shakespearean drama (Timon of Athens, incorrectly identified as Timor), and calling one character, Jimmy Gillani, a “…dirty, friggin’ Jersey WAP” instead of a WOP. A derogatory slur for Italians, WOP is derived not from with out papers as many believe, but from the Italian word guappo, regionally pronounced guap, and used to describe a man with a cocky or overbearing manner.
The novel itself was disjointed and slow-going for me; it was an effort to stay focused. Every few pages, new characters were introduced and I struggled to keep them straight as Arenson jumped from one subplot to the next. The novel is pitched as comedic–Arneson’s author photo is a simulated mug shot–but most of the humor is in the satirical vein, peppered with irony and bathroom humor.
I’d bet that Richard Arneson is a funny guy in person and can imagine his dry sense of humor and one-line zingers. Sadly, his humor didn’t translate to the page for me, and the Corporate America he described was so foreign that I couldn’t relate. This book has received good reviews from other readers but it just wasn’t for me. For a more detailed synopsis and other reviews, visit the link to the author’s page above.
Thanks to Rebecca for the opportunity to review this novel.