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Guest Post: A First Book Misstep

I kind of love reading writing about books. It's sometimes better than actually reading the book! Or sometimes the review will save you a lot of time. What Jennie has done here with her first trip down 50/50 lane is to read a book and then tell us to stay the heck away! She sacrificed her time reading this book so we won't have to, thanks!

Courtesy of Jennie | Nerd on the Verge | Originally posted 1.4.2012


What a way to kick off the challenge. In all my life, I had thrown two books across a room upon finishing them; this was the third.

What Adam Ross has done here is create a monumental waste of time for anyone who likes books that are something other than lame experiments in pseudo-metafiction. I’d say it’s too clever for its own good, but it is neither of those things. It is not clever, and it is not good.

Mr. Peanut is a book about murder and about writing about murder, specifically of the domestic variety. Three sets of husbands and wives are profiled. The first, David and Alice, are what we are led to believe are the primary couple. David is set up at first as the antagonist, having been accused of murdering his wife, but what feels like Mr. Ross’ unabashed misogyny swiftly arrives to turn the tables and make Alice into a freak bitch, baby.

The second couple, a detective and his wife, are such ciphers that I can’t even be bothered to remember their names, and I finished this book yesterday. She has taken to bed; he is confused. She refuses to explain herself; he is enraged. She is enigmatic; he is homicidally furious. Until one day, she’s up and about, and he is fine. Back to normal. Let’s have a baby.

No explanation, no reason for this unbelievably long derailment. It seems to exist merely to get us to hate another female character for her wily, mysterious, womanly ways. Men never know what women are thinking, and women always make them guess? Astonishingly original material, that.

In addition, once this profile is over, we never hear about these two people again. Maybe once they are referred to, in passing. But this dude was one of the people investigating the death of Alice. But I guess their section was over, their little scenario of domestic bliss complete; moving on.

The third scenario profiles the murder of Detective Sheppard’s wife Marian in 1954. We are sidetracked into this scenario via a confusing little character called Mobius who is ready to confess to Alice’s murder—but only if he hears the true story of what happened to Marian, and only if he gets to read David’s book. Which is, apparently, about killing Alice.

Yeah. So, at first it seems we’re being told Detective—then, Doctor—Sheppard was your typical class-A 1950s alpha-male asshole. Blindingly arrogant, with a kid he ignores and a wife he cheats on religiously, he blithely ignores Marian’s feelings about just about everything and makes extraordinary demands without realizing their significance. But soon we learn that Marian was withholding sex. Gee golly, mister! No wonder he killed her!

Or did he?

We don’t really find out. And I don’t care. Did I mention that “David” writes several different endings for his “book,” and there are entire passages—like, 50-page passages—devoted solely to describing a hike in Hawaii and Hitchcockian film tropes? And that David is a video game developer who blah blah it’s nonsense don’t read it blah.

Moving on.

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