Friday, January 24, 2014

Blogging Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith Part 2


Why is all the imagery associated with a book called GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE of Preying Mantids? Well, you'll just have to read it to find out.

I realized last night while reading, that this was kind of a dumb idea. I mean, I love this book like I love all Andrew's books, and I want to share that love with everyone, but the idea of blogging about each section as I read, a few short weeks before the book releases, is kind of dumb. It's dumb because I don't want to give the plot away, and that makes it hard to write about.

Oh well. So what, right?

Last night I read these sections: LOUIS ASKS A RHETORICAL QUESTION • THERE'S BLOOD ON YOUR SPAM • GRANT WALLACE MURDERED ME • WHAT MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT • SHANN'S NEW OLD HOUSE

I realize now I'm eventually going to have to redact some of these section titles. Partly because they are just too awesome, and partly because they will eventually spoil some parts of the plot (maybe).

There's a great review of Grasshopper Jungle on Goodreads, by a guy named Chris. Chris really gets these section titles.

You'll find when you read this book that the section I read last night is not that long. That's partly because I was busy writing, and partly because when I start reading in bed I get tired fast, and partly because this book is so good, you kid of have to savor it.

So anyway, some things that struck me while I was reading last night:

  • This story is about a lot of things, but mainly this story is about Austin and Robby.
  • In this section is when we are first introduced to the double meaning of Grasshopper Jungle: a History. If you know Smith's books, you know they're often intertwined with ghosts of the past, or characters from centuries gone, or ... history. It makes a great double entendre.
  • The Del Vista Arms is a locale in the story that comes up a lot. Del Vista means Of the View. Arms has to do with American imitation of English inn names. Such as Court, Hall, Manor, etc. It could also come from British pub names, referencing Coat of Arms. It's one of those silly American misappropriations of language that are common in the Midwest, and of course, hilarious.
  • One of the funniest threads you'll hopefully notice when you read this book is that Austin is acutely aware of the odor of things. In this section it just starts out as socks, but soon it get's a hell of a lot funnier.
  • Hy-Vee is first mentioned on page 20. Hy-Vee is awesome:



  • One of my favorite things about the narrator Austin's voice is how he interjects these clever staccato (sometimes sarcastic, sometimes incredibly wise) lines into his exposition, and they work brilliantly to chop up the pace, make you think, or just plain make you laugh your ass off.
Here are a couple examples from this section of the book:

Citrus does not grow in Iowa.

History is full of decapitations, and Iowa is no exception.

And that's half a century of an Iowa town's history in four sentences.

7 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

LOL. I hate you. You are a book lover tease. :-P

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I do like the snarky lines.

mshatch said...

Can't wait to read this :)

Slamdunk said...

Chris' write-up is comprehensive as you say. I agree with the title about teens and what everyone else is doing--I hear that one frequently.

Rusty Carl said...

It sounds funny. Actually, I've missed some posts. I have no idea what's happening right now. But I picked up enough from contextual clues to piece the large swaths of what you're talking about, but then the twitter exchange had me confused again, except for it being about grocery stores and their relative butchery of grammar.

Happy Friday.

SC Author said...

Love that last line!

Chris said...

Hi there, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/