I was unprepared for enjoyable The New Republic
It would be bad form to omit that I’m listening to the unabridged audiobook version, which I only bought because it was on special this month on iTunes, and my commute has recently expanded from 15 minutes to 75. The other book I picked up based on the price criteria was a massive disappointment, so I was ready for more unhappiness. Happily, that prediction was wrong.
Before sitting down to write this, I made the mistake of glancing at some of the other reviews, and am surprised at how harshly the work is being judged. Admittedly, I’ve not yet finished the book, but I’m on its downward slope and am still enjoying the ride intensely.
The story is told from the perspective of Edward Kellogg, a man driven by his anger over his own perpetual second-place status. It has resulted in a need to tear down his own former heroes, to which he applies his considerable reason and intelligence, only to find that it doesn’t balm his own self-hatred, only temporarily distract from it. Edward couches every thought, every effort, in his own covetous intent. Edward wants nothing more than to be known, to be popular, unable to see that it is solely that desire which prevents him from achieving that goal.
The prose is crisp, mellifluous, and witty. A few times I have found myself barking laughter at a turn of phrase, and feeling joy at the surprise.
I’m not sanguine about Edward’s odds of discovering his problems, getting over himself, and growing… but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be fun to watch him cross the finish line – in second place again.
Note: The audiobook edition’s performance is very enjoyable. Edoardo Ballerini does not miss a beat, shifting voice and tone between each character without resorting to caricature. I may end up looking for other books read by Ballerini.