Thursday, September 16, 2010
BBAW: Forgotten Treasure
If you've been book blogging for any length of time, or even reading book blogs for any length of time, I'm sure it doesn't surprise you when I say that some books really sweep the blogosphere. To open up your Google Reader and see what's going on with your blogging friends, you'll be exposed to reviews and chatter about the same book every five posts. I mean, Mockingjay anyone? Or perhaps you remember the whole Raven Stole the Moon thing? It's great to see worthy books get a boost from lots of book bloggers' enthusiasm, but today's Book Blogger Appreciation Week topic asks us to spotlight a book that we've loved that seems to have flown under the book blogging radar.
When I saw this topic, a book I've read this very year jumped immediately to mind. Looking back, I even commented on the unfortunate lack of book bloggers reading this book in my original review. I wanted all my blogging friends to love The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen as much as I did. The author's previous book The Last Town on Earth seems to have made a much bigger splash, if not in the book blogosphere, then at least in general.
So, this book, it's set in the Great Depression-era where Jason and Whit Fireson AKA The Firefly Brothers are becoming infamous for their bank robbing exploits, except it seems their time may be up because they've been killed and now they're waking up in the morgue. Yes, I did say waking up up in the morgue because much to their, and everyone else's surprise, the most definitely dead Firefly Brothers are getting a second chance and a third chance and, well, you get the idea. Okay, I know people either love or hate that magical realism element in their reading, but this book has got so much going for it that perhaps even the magical realism haters could see their way to giving it a chance.
First of all, it's an unbelievably compelling picture of the Great Depression. It captures the desperation and the depravity to which the average person was driven. It draws out this hero worship for bank robbing criminals who were, in the eyes of many of the people whose houses had been foreclosed on, vicariously exacting their revenge. Second, it's a penetrating look at family as it follows the brothers back to their home where their mother and other brother are living a more average Depression experience. All these characters have incredible depth and seeing how they interact, how old hurts are never quite forgotten, and how their love for each other manifests itself in unexpected ways that never turn out quite the way they're intended is a perfect and well-drawn picture of any family, even given the unique circumstances. Finally, it's got action. I mean, it's a book about bank robbers. They rob banks. They have tommy guns. They have to make daring escapes from the cops. They have hostages and lovers and hostages who become lovers. Add to that the fact that they seem to not be staying dead, and you've got a pretty decent amount of action to offset the deeper, darker parts of the book.
I loved this book. I loved seeing the bank robber myth and legend simultaneously built up with the brothers' unlikley resurrection and peeled away to reveal a pair of average guys going through a hard time, just guys with families and baggage and struggles who just happen to be infamous bank robbers. All right, I hope my shameless gushing has convinced you to seek out a copy of The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, and I'm looking forward to discovering some more excellent forgotten treasures today around the book blogosphere.
What's *your* forgotten treasure book?