Five Things About... Groundskeeping by Lee Cole

As a whole, I really liked this book, but I must say I wasn’t enamored with any of the characters. I felt some slight empathy towards the narrator, Owen, as he seems to be struggling to get his life together, but he was definitely flawed (and not in a noble way, more so annoying). His sort-of girlfriend, Alma, I found pretentious, judgmental, and attention-seeking. Her only redeeming quality was the fact that she didn’t deny these attributes, but it wasn’t enough to win me over.

This was the first book I can remember reading that was set in Kentucky, and while I don’t want to necessarily book a flight, I have a feeling it would be pretty to drive through. The confederate flags and Trump groupies I could pass on, though. 

Speaking of Trump, I did appreciate how Cole brought politics into his text in a way where there were frequent, sometimes subtle, references but not pages of political musings (except a few that were relevant and well-placed, like after the election).

I’ve noticed how Iowa Writer’s Workshop Writers, like Cole, all have some sort of similarity I can’t  quite pinpoint but know exists. We discussed the at times excessive sensory description at book club, which might be it,  but I think there’s more. Some sort of general stylistic attribute- a polish that’s a little too forced, perhaps? I don’t want to criticize (although I guess is am a little bit), but there’s just something…. 

Without giving entering away, I thought the ending was fine. Considering alternative options, this was fine with me.

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