Mike Crane is a longtime internet friend of mine. I’ve read several of his pieces, blurbed one of his novellas, and have always given my honest opinion of anything I’ve read of his. This review will be no different.
I enjoyed this weird little book, but it is not without its problems. I found there to be too much hyperbole in the writing that distracted from my enjoyment in places. Mind you, this is about the worst day yet in one man’s life, so perhaps the hyperbole is warranted. I’ll let you decide.
The book is just as cartoon-y as the cover alludes. Every bad thing that happens to Benjamin Goodman (who constantly brought to mind one of my favorite bandleaders, Benny Goodman) is exaggerated, especially concerning how his shitty mother treats him. I’m currently reading The Nix, which has a much more subtle yet equally upsetting mother, and I can’t help but compare the two.
All of Crane’s villains all come off like this: over-the-top, goofy versions of bad guys. The multitude of baddies Ben encounters weren’t upsetting. They were silly. While that could work for you, for me it lessened the impact of this tale of one man trying to find the courage to stand up for himself. Still, I liked Ben. He was a good dude, if a little timid. Reminded me of someone else I know.
Never did I want to set the book aside, so that’s a plus. It reads easily enough, if a little simply. You can also say that Crane was shooting for simple because the book is about a simple life in turmoil, but again, I prefer a deeper prose experience when reading slice-of-life stories. That’s subjective, though. Crane gets his points across, and that’s all that really matters.
At the end of the day, this is a first novel from a short story author and it feels that way; much like a short story that slightly overstays its welcome. I found some whole sections could have been cleaved from the main text without losing anything. For example: the repetition of all events leading up to a certain event was unneeded. The reader knows what happened. We read it for ourselves. No need to make us read a lengthy, page-long paragraph retelling all of it to a detective. A simple, “Benjamin told the detective everything that had happened up until that point” would have sufficed. While that might sting my buddy’s ego, it is my honest opinion, which I’m sure he’ll appreciate at the end of the day.
In summation: Goodman’s Bad Day: A Novel is a fun book with writing accessible enough to please the most casual of readers. If you like the cover, you’ll love this book.
Final Judgment: One wholly-cartoon-y, exaggerated, terrible day in the life of a good man.
NOTE: While I bought and read the ebook version of this book, Mike was kind enough to send me a signed copy in the mail. This did not affect my rating in any way.
See you tomorrow,
Pic of the Day