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Book Review: "Flatscreen" Is Raunchy, Yet Oddly Sincere

Shaina Eng |
March 30, 2012 | 3:24 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


Adam Wilson's "Flatscreen" tells the story of a young drug-addict struggling to break free.  (Barnes & Noble)
Adam Wilson's "Flatscreen" tells the story of a young drug-addict struggling to break free. (Barnes & Noble)
I’m not going to lie.  When I read Adam Wilson’s “Flatscreen,” I was expecting something entirely different.  Well, I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting, but the novel took me by surprise, and in more ways than one.

In “Flatscreen,” we meet Eli Schwartz, a deplorable, drug-addicted rich 20-something-year-old who is caught in a web that was spun by his messed up family.  Feeling unloved and lost, Eli barely scrapes by in life, living in his mother’s basement, cut off from his father’s money, and constantly having to live in the shadow of his brother’s success.  

Though, after meeting Seymour Khan, a former television star-turned-sex addict, Eli starts to think more about his life as he’s living it and attempts to break free and become someone new. 

In telling the reader about Eli Schwartz, Wilson tells the narrative through many different ways; one chapter could be written in the form of a movie script, while another is written in traditional prose.  It seems slightly unorthodox and even a bit disorienting at first, but when these bits and pieces are put together, they not only create a cohesive story, but they also help the reader understand what goes on from Eli’s point of view.

That, I feel, is Wilson’s greatest accomplishment in the novel.  Since much of the story is based off of his own life, there is sincerity and a sense of realism and dimension to his characters that come across clearly on the printed page.  As readers, we see what Eli sees when he’s high on drugs; we feel what he feels when he aches for affection and love.

Though I wasn’t dying from laughter all the way through, I did find myself amused at different points throughout the novel.  If you’re looking for a fun read, “Flatscreen” is indeed the a good slacker novel—an amusing and raunchy treat.

Reach reporter Shaina Eng here.  Follow Shaina on Twitter.



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