The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman (2011)
After reading How to Steal a Car I was pretty sure I was done with Pete Hautman. It isn’t that his writing is bad or anything but it’s very stark and the characters are sometimes thin, a little flat. And I also have a hard time identifying with the disaffected youth of America who seem to just have a massive case of ennui.
Anyway, I gave The Big Crunch a try because I fell in love with its cover (beautifully illustrated by Frank Stockton). I knew it would be a book I would either love (as much as I love the cover) or it would be the book the convinced me to part ways once and for all with Pete Hautman.
The latter happened. I wish him all the best but his books will have to muddle along without my reading them.
The Big Crunch is a love story, but not that kind of love story. Wes and June don’t fall in love at first sight, they don’t swoon. But eventually after orbiting and watching and thinking, Wes and June sort of collide. But not in a really romantic way.
This is a subtle love story, maybe a little too subtle for my tastes.
The story alternates between Wes and June’s perspective but it’s very rapid (like every other paragraph sometimes) and makes it hard to really feel involved with either protagonist.
The book reminded me a lot of How to Say Goodbye in Robot which was all about friendship and attachments in the face of deeply NOT wanting to get attached. Ultimately though The Big Crunch lacked the verve and, yes, spark to set it apart as something special. It might not be a conventional love story but it felt a lot like something I’ve heard before.