Darden gave me this book to read last month and I am forever grateful for this gift. That girl is a well of cult favorites, which Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito is. It is a wonderful book, but not without its own flaws as you will soon be reading in review snippets that I wrote down as I was reading it. I am glad to have a copy of this book not just because I wouldn’t have found out about this on my own, but also because the prose is lyrical and quirky and I know I will enjoy going back to some of the most inventive phrases I’ve read in a long while.
Blip Korterly kicks off a game of graffiti tag on a local overpass by painting a simple phrase: “Uh-oh.” An anonymous interlocutor writes back: “When?” Blip slyly answers: “Just a couple of days.” But what happens in just a couple of days? Blip is arrested; his friend, Dr. Flake Fountain—a molecular biologist—is drafted into a shadow-government research project conducting experiments on humans. The virus being tested—cleverly called “the Pied Piper”—renders its victims incapable of symbolic capacity; that is, incapable of communication. Is this biological weaponry? What would happen if it were let loose on the world? Does a babbling populace pose a threat or provide an opportunity for social evolution?
March 10, 2013
Vigorito loves words. He loves the sound of them, their tumble and play, and he is definitely not afraid to use them. Ten pages in and I marveled at how cute and cheery the book was – very reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s works, but not as fascinating nor as good. KJV’s writing has always been memorable in its bouyancy as much as in its conciseness, while Vigorito invests on lengthiness and a wide vocabulary to make a point. Vonnegut’s works are crisp, while Vigorito’s are full and fluffy.
March 13, 2013
I wish Vigorito showed some restraint in his writing. He has the knack for clever turns of phrase, but when your sentences last forever, and your playful language spirals down into tediousness and redundancy, it distracts the reader from what you are trying to say. Vigorito’s disproportionate creativity is getting in the way of telling an entertaining story. I get it, you have so many ways to prove a point, but please, please just get to it.
March 16, 2013
I’m finally done with Just a Couple of Days after trying to squeeze it in between work, family and trivia nights (lol). My final thoughts?
I enjoyed the book – it is legitimately hilarious and the plot is familiar yet offbeat. It is also very engaging in parts where the story actually moves along, and not just glide by. I did not feel anything for any of the characters, even if Agent Orange reminded me of Agent 355 (Y: The Last Man), which is sad since there could have been many ways to glorify all the other characters in the novel. The characters Flake hated, I hated all the more because they were all one-dimensional. Even Blip and Sophie were a bit one-dimensional and I couldn’t quite stitch how the unanswered questions, and the billboard graffiti all fit together. They were so thoroughly discussed in earlier parts of the book so reaching the end of the novel left me wondering if there was something I was missing. Was it gaping plotholes or is the story too layered for my busy brain? I guess I’ve become spoiled in the story-telling cohesion that other quirky writers (e.g. Douglas Adams) are masters of.
I laughed out loud in many parts of the book. As I mentioned in an earlier review snippet, Tony V. is clever, but I have been rolling my eyes to the back side of my head over paragraph upon paragraph of funny, artfully fashioned but very, very, very repetitive prose. It would have been a far greater book if it did not suffer from an amateur habit of making the same point over and over again. I wish Tony matures enough to tell a great story with wisdom and discipline that comes with…I dunno. Writing workshops? Reading classic works of art? Age? Whatever it takes, I know that he has the talent for weaving a great story and I’m excited to pick up another Vigorito maybe 10, 15 or 20 years down the road.
If you like Tony V.’s Just a Couple of Days, you have to check out Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (then move on to his other works because he is my favorite author in the whole world), and then maybe some Christopher Moore (whom I belatedly noticed has a recommendation on the book’s cover). Their stories are as witty and humorous but with an admirable frugality of words that Tony Vigorito lacks.
This book is so meta. I wonder if Tony reads David Foster Wallace, because long run-on sentences are so DFW, too.