Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: The Biology of Luck by Jacob M. Appel

Received through a Goodreads Giveaway

When reading literary fiction it is either hit-or-miss for me. Luckily (no pun intended)The Biology of Luck by Jacob M. Appel was a definite hit and I'm sure nothing I can write in this review will suffice. But... I must try and throw my views on this novel into the fray.

Larry Bloom is in love with Starshine Hart and to prove that love has written a manuscript detailing her day up until the moment they have dinner. This dinner is not like any other because this is the one where he's determined to profess his love for her. And hopefully in return she will do the same. No Larry is not charismatic, memorable, good looking, or rich. He's a man who hopes that the letter he holds in his pocket from the publishing company Stroop & Stone, will seal the deal with Starshine.

The Biology of Luck cleverly alternates between Larry's reality and the fiction of Starshine's life by using situations in his own life to fill in the gaps that he couldn't possibly know unless having been told. The fiction of Starshine's life, Larry's manuscript, is named The Biology of Luck. It is where we are fall victim to the beauty that is Starshine and are introduced to all the people she's left in her wake.

Starshine is a beautiful, bike riding, odd-job queen, who has hopes and dreams of becoming any sort of star (still no pun intended). Aware of her ability to melt hearts, often using it to her advantage when asking money for the Cambodian Children's Fund, also fears the impending doom of those powers fading. I'm never sure I actually like Starshine most of the novel, but I too was drawn to her like every person in this novel seemed to be.

What's most fascinating about this novel is the level of depth given to each character. The characters Larry and Starshine encounter are real and they seem as interesting as our leads. From the insane landlord Bone to the dilettante Colby Parker, Appel seems to have produced a character study on the moving parts of New York. Their interactions and happenings eventually come full circle in both novels culminating in a hilarious scene that is just too good to believe and very romance movie-ish. Among these characters is also an Armenian florist who can determine someone's level of luck in their biology just by looking at them. I would love to hear what my biology says of my luck. Please introduce me to that guy.

Amidst all the chaos that does happen on the day that Larry hopes to win Starshine's heart, is the vivid picture painted of New York by Jacob M. Appel. Larry is a tour guide so this detail could not be ignored. I felt that I came alive just as the patrons of Harlem did in the opening chapter. I have never been to New York but The Biology of Luckrestores the incessant need to see its architecture for myself. To encounter the crazies roaming the streets. To have a conversation with people who are the embodiment of unique.

Thank you Jacob M. Appel for writing such an interesting, multilayered novel that does end without resolution. The Biology of Luck leaves a HUGE unanswered question in the end but I'm hoping his next novel (feauturing these characters) will answer it for me. After reading The Biology of Luck I am certain the need to hold on to hope in matters of love and life are what gets us up in the morning. Also, I should really acquaint myself with the poetry of Walt Whitman. ****

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