Review: Citizen Dick by Richard Arneson

Title: Citizen Dick

Author: Richard Arneson

Genre/Pages: Fiction/397

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.

8 Comments

  • At 2010.04.05 12:50, Nicole said:

    I think you did a great job explaining what didn’t work for you. I have been sometimes don’t enjoy reading about corporate America so i probably would not have been a good candidate for this one. And humor books are another category of which I am wary. Great review.
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..A Gift From Brittany: A Memoir of Love and Loss in the French Countryside, by Marjorie Price – Book Review =-.

    • At 2010.04.05 14:19, Meg said:

      Honest reviews are critical to all of us remaining reliable and relevant to other readers and bloggers, and you did a great job of discussing what didn’t work here without being cruel or nasty. Excellent review, Nat! Hopefully Mr. Arneson’s book will find a home with other readers.

      • At 2010.04.05 16:32, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

        I think you did a great job with your review, by letting us know what didn’t work for you and why.

        • At 2010.04.06 12:31, nicole langan said:

          A good honest review, Thanks!

          • At 2010.04.07 01:42, Lisa said:

            I was on the fence about this one and passed on it. Sounds like I made the right choice.
            .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Giveaway – "South of Broad" by Pat Conroy =-.

            • At 2010.04.07 23:40, Kathleen said:

              Your review sounds fair and balanced to me. You were specific about what you didn’t like and I’d have to say based on your review I would skip this one myself!
              .-= Kathleen´s last blog ..I’m Going on Tour with John Sandford =-.

              • At 2010.04.09 09:01, Jenners said:

                I hear you … I avoid self-published books because it just seems to much like a labor of love and attacking someone’s child.
                .-= Jenners´s last blog ..I’m Back! My Week In Review =-.

                • At 2010.04.10 11:17, nat @book, line, and sinker said:

                  that is such a great comparison–that’s exactly how i felt when i reviewed this book. i think that writing an unfavorable review of a well-established author is a bit different because he or she can be, to a degree, protected by his or her previous success. with a new, self-published author, every bit of exposure seems to be magnified…at least in my opinion.

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