Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
Published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins
It is hard to tell which is more soul-crushing: the corporate acronym-obsessed behemoth of a company for which Tom Violet works, or the incredibly embarrassing impotence he suffers whenever he and his wife try to make love (she really wants for them to have another baby). A visit from his father, the Pulitzer Prize-winning famous novelist isn’t exactly uplifting either, with Tom’s own novel sitting in a desk drawer. Really, the only bright spot most days is Tom’s lovely young subordinate at work, Katie, on whom he has an entirely inappropriate crush. This slow death but emotional and intellectual suffocation is not the future Tom had hoped for, so he decides he is going to make a change for the better in his life.
Domestic Violets is laugh-out-loud funny, right from the beginning. Think Office Space, but with a single protagonist who is older and slightly more mature, with a lot more problems in his life than just his job.
I do this sometimes. I react to thing based on what characters in movies would do. That’s kind of ironic, considering I’ve always thought of myself as a book person. At least I think that’s ironic. That word gets misused a lot. -p. 3
“She’s teaching Catcher in the Rye again this year. I guess her kids love it.”
Curtis shakes his head. “Well of course they do, Tommy. The only people who can actually get through that self-indulgent tripe without throwing up are teenagers and the criminally insane.” -p. 12
At the same time, though, Domestic Violets is a very real and at times quite moving novel. Despite this being a quintessential WMFUN (white male fuck up novel), Tom is an incredibly sympathetic character. After all, who among us doesn’t dream of doing what we love, instead of what pays the bills? Besides that, he really does love his wife and family, he just doesn’t always make the best decisions.
“It’s easier to love someone at first, when you’re young and you don’t know anything about anything. But it gets harder as you go along. Love is tough today. There are a lot of distractions.” -p. 177
Funny, smart, and meaningful, what else do you want in a book? Highly recommended.
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