Monday, December 5, 2011

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall

It was Brady Udall's second book The Lonely Polygamist that I enjoyed reading so much that it made me decide to start this book blog. So needless to say, I had pretty high expectations for The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, his first book, when I found a second-hand copy and bought it a few months ago. This book proved to me that TLP wasn't a fluke, Udall is a great writer. His characters are extremely well developed. They're not your conventional hero-type characters - in fact, with this one, he gives us Edgar Mint, probably the anti-hero by most definitions today, but they're the type of characters that you can't help but pull for.

Edgar's life has been a series of tragedies. Edgar's mother Gloria was an Apache who lived on a reservation in Arizona. His father Arnold was a city slicker from Connecticut who who wanted to be a cowboy and came out West, became infatuated with Edgar's mother, and then was driven away by her mother when Gloria became pregnant with Edgar. Gloria, who had never touched a drop of alcohol before in her life, found that beer offered the only respite from the nauseousness that accompanied her pregnancy, and began drinking it on the first day Edgar started to develop inside her and didn't stop until she died a few years later.

When Edgar was seven, the mailman ran over him, crushing his skull and sending him into a coma for three months. When he woke up, his mother had abandoned him and his recovery, while miraculous, was not a complete one. It's not made clear in the book whether the things that make him socially inept and that make his story so compelling are direct results from his accident, or whether he would have grown up the same way even without it, but he's a different kind of kid.

The story Udall tells is a great one. It's funny at times, heartbreaking at others. It shines a light on the things that make us humans, both the good and the bad. And it shows how the life of one inconsequential person can have such a profound impact on the lives of those around him.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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