Wednesday, December 12, 2012
No Ordinary Day vs. The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman
I'd like to begin this review by thanking my newly arrived son, Aaron. Admittedly I was struggling to find the time to really get into my first read, The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, until that wonderful December evening that the 5 lbs. 4 oz little man decide to arrive three weeks early.
Being a new blogger to the illustrious Smackdown and the only bracket to be contested at the selection meeting, I felt a great amount of responsibility with these two works. Initially I believed this would be a easy choice - the story of an orphan girl in India written by an acclaimed author vs a nerdy kid from Pennsylvania - and with that I chose to read Wolitzer's novel first.
The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman
This is the story of three young kids from different parts of America all travelling down the Florida for the annual Youth Scrabble Tournament. Each kid (Duncan, April, and Nate) has their own reason for attending the tournament and each one is an interesting character.
I was surprised with this novel in its somewhat whimsical telling of events and one of the highlights to the novel was that a certain string of events had me thinking back to Fred Savage being chased through Universal Studios in The Wizard. A note to authors out there - if you can get me thinking about such 1989 classics like The Wizard, you're going to do very well in this tournament. Maybe in my next round Sloth will save the day as he rips down the pirate-ship's mast on his way to help Chunk and the gang...I digress.
While it is not a 'perfect' story and there were times when I wondered what the purpose of a moment was, overall it was an enjoyable read. Perhaps the strength of the novel stems from the fact that it is not a futuristic post-apocalyptic dystopian vampire-werewolf love story. The heart of The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman is that it is a nerdy tale of the story of three kids and their adventures at a scrabble tournament.
No Ordinary Day
I had high expectations for No Ordinary Day. Unfortunately, this novel was not able to deliver on those expectations. I believe that Ellis' novel held the underlying goal of exposing just a brutal way of life in Kolkata and the cruel interactions with with others and, unfortunately, more often than not this came off rather contrived. The moments where the novel was successful and genuinely connects with the reader are too few and far between. I found I spent more time as I read reflecting on my increasing enjoyment of Duncan Dorfman than I did engrossed in Valli's tale.
The novel that will advance is The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman.