• Ryanne Harper

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is the story of a high-strung book snob who, after finding a baby in his store, is forced to loosen up a bit. I enjoyed it. I liked A.J. from the start, even though he is a bit of a snob.

"How about I tell you what I don't like? I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn't be - basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful - nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups a la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children's books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, move tie-in editions, novelty items, and - I imagine this goes without saying - vampires."

Total book snob. I found A.J. endearing because of his snobbery. I am somewhat of a book snob myself. Though, I am in recovery. I found that requiring a book to fall within such strict parameters is how you end up spending your late teens and early twenties pretending to like Jack Kerouac while everyone else around you is enjoying Harry Potter.

Back to A.J.; he's a widower who owns a small independent book shop on an island. He spends his days selling books and his evenings drinking. He is the proud owner of a very rare Poe collection which he plans to sell. With the proceeds, he hopes to get off the island and spend the rest of his days drinking. One morning, he notices his prized possession is gone and, on this same day, a woman has left her baby in his book store. Now that his dreams of drinking himself to death have come to an end, he decides to adopt the child. And, of course, his world changes. It really is a great book, especially if you like curmudgeonly men who are actually sweet once you get to know them.

When A.J. decides to start dating again, he always ask his dates what their favorite book is as a way of getting to know them better, which seems like a great idea. Then I realized I wouldn't have an actual answer. There are far too many books to choose a favorite. My favorite has changed too many times to count. I guess I don't really have an all-time favorite. So, on my pretend date with A.J., I suppose I'd have to ask him how much time he has because the list is extensive and all over the place. For instance, 1984 was the first book I read where the ending made me mad. I was so, so mad a Winston. So, for a little while, 1984 was my favorite. Then, I read To Kill a Mockingbird and, like so many people, fell half in love with Atticus Finch. My senior year of high school, In Cold Blood was assigned. I loved it; prior to reading it, I wasn't much on true crime. In Cold Blood changed that. Forever. Then I read The Princess Bride and it became my favorite. I love Douglas Adams, particularly The Hitchhiker's series. Battle Royale, or Hunger Games for grown-ups, has one of the best endings I've ever read; I mean, who doesn't love Bruce Springsteen? I am obsessed with John Irving. I'm just as obsessed with J.K. Rowling, especially when she's writing as Robert Galbraith. I have read and reread Catcher in the Rye enough that I'm probably on some sort of watch list. The point is, I think it's just about impossible, if you are an avid reader, to have a favorite book. So, I don't think I could give A.J. a satisfactory answer and, frankly, he'd probably hate my list. But that's okay. It's okay to be a book snob and it's okay to read books about vampires. So long as it isn't Twilight.

#books #AJ #Fikry #TrumanCapote #HarryPotter #JKRowling #RobertGalbraith #JohnIrving #DouglasAdams #PrincessBride #1984 #GeorgeOrwell

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