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Monday, November 30, 2015

Undermajordomo Minor is the Title of a Book and Also the Name of a Character

“He wandered here and there over rolling hills. He never saw the ocean but dreamed of it often enough.”

It doesn’t happen a lot that the same author makes his or her way onto the esteemed pages of Howie’s Book Club, so let’s give a very special, warm welcome to Patrick deWitt. Oh, you didn’t know that there was a physical copy of this blog that contains actual pages? It’s written with the quill of an Egyptian goose and dipped in only the finest Indian ink. You see, in addition to being an exhausting pedant I’m also painfully pretentious and seem to have some kind of thing against geese and Indian squids.

Do you remember when I read and then wrote about The Sisters Brothers? If you click on that you’ll find that it was good and fun and cracked me the f up. Also thoughtful. Dewitt has a knack for writing characters of few words saying profound things in a way that hasn’t been said before. From The Sisters Brothers: “I do not know what it was about that boy but just looking at him, even I wanted to clout him on the head. It was a head that invited violence.”

This is a book I read last March and I think about it maybe 4 times a day, so when Undermajordomo Minor came out I read it, too. So far this is turning into a real good story.

Want to know another good story? Undermajordomo Minor, by Patrick deWitt.

“What are rooms for if not for entering, after all. Or also exiting. Indeed, think of how many rooms we enter and exit in our span of days, boy. Room to room to room. And we call it a life.”

I never know how much to tell you guys about a book, because my relationship with them is like this: I go into them just straight ignorant. Most of the time I pick a book based on a recommendation from a source that I trust. I have a little list in my phone and every time I’m at the library I grab three or four. Then I just read the suckers. I don’t even read the back.

This is fun because I have no idea what the setting is, who the main character is going to be, or even what genre it’s in. Like I’ll start a book and be forty pages in and be like, Oh man this is a mystery. But really if you read books like this every one is a mystery. The places books will go sometimes just gives me one heck of a thrill everybody. Also because they’re all at the library if I don’t like it I stop reading immediately and I’m not out anything. This is really a good way to live. I’ve got life figured out for sure.

So should I tell you what’s going on here or do you just figure it out? Double-edged sword, folks. On the one hand I don’t know if my recommendations on their own hold enough weight to sway you all, so I worry that if I don’t weave a compelling word picture you won’t read them. In the other hand are Oreos so I might be too busy.

Haha just kidding I spent all weekend filling a tiny computer with old video games. Like, every one. Oh my gosh you guys come to my house and we’ll play so many video games that were made when I was a kid. Games that used to cost $70 dollars and you would get one a year, so you had to play it every single day for months whether it was good or bad but now you’ll play for 10 seconds and say “that was once a thing.” It’s pretty fun, guys. Also no Oreos, which is a fact that just now made me a little sad.
Anyway, here: Lucien, who for most of the book goes by Lucy, is a shiftless kid in a tiny town who isn’t particularly happy there. The local religious leader gets him a job at a castle. There he finds true love, a rival, a few friends, a taste for raw fish, some confidence, and some snappy dialogue.

“I shall not sit idly by and settle for anything other than a perfect cup of tea.”


“Compromise is a plague of sorts, would you agree, yes or no?”

“I don’t know that I’ve thought of it before, sir.”

“A man accepts an inferior cup of tea, telling himself it is only a small thing. But what comes next? Do you see?”

“I suppose, sir.”

“Very good. Now. After my breakfast, you will return to find your own breakfast awaiting you in the scullery. Do not forget to compliment Agnes’s fare, even if the fare does not warrant it.”

“I understand.”

“The fare will not warrant it.”

“I understand.”

OK, here’s another thing I’ll tell you. Undermajordomo Minor is a fairy tale. Unlikely things happen. You suspend your disbelief sometimes because you’re having so much fun. And somehow, though you won’t be one-hundred percent on board with Lucy at the beginning, you’ll root for that guy at the end and like me be real sad that this book has to end