As always, please keep in mind that all reviews here are my sole personal opinion. I don’t deconstruct a book in an university essay way – I simply talk about how much or how little I enjoyed a book and if it “spoke” to me or sucked me in. What I think of a book may not be what you – or even all the critics in the world – thought of it.
Right, now I’ve got that out of the way. Read this in about an hour and a half. Yep, it’s that short. I spent more time reading the interview with S. E. Hinton in the second half of the book, than the I did the first, which are the actual stories.
This book made me think. And not in a deep philosophical way. It made me think in a cynical way. About the idea behind publishing this book. And not in a good way.
Fourteen very very short stories that are interconnected – they tell the story of two cousins, Terry & Mike, who are very close. The deaths of their fathers when they are children dictate the rest of their lives. Terry takes the wrong fork and is in prison. Mike takes the wrong fork too, but he spends his life feeling copious amounts of grief and guilt that he’s not in prison with Terry. The last tale ends abruptly, on a cliffhanger, and you have no idea what happens.
It wasn’t till I looked the book up online that I found out who the “Tim” in the title is. The idea is that these stories are written by Tim, who is actually Mike.
Uh, ok? Tim is never mentioned in the stories. Tim is never alluded to, his presence is never sensed. So…what the hell point is he? I have no idea. Why not have the character called “Tim”? Why not call it “Some of Mike’s Stories”? What on earth was the point of supposedly writing it as “Tim” and changing the character’s name to Mike?
The stories are…nice. Yeah. But Mike and Terry stay frustratingly out of reach of the reader. There is too little of them to connect to me. And the last story, the one that is so abruptly cut short. Does Mike live? Does Mike die? Does the climatic event teach him a life lesson? Does it make everything that went before ok? Is his life of guilt validated by what happens? Huh?
The reason I’m so cynical about this book is that it strikes me as something that was published simply because it’s S. E. Hinton. The whole book feels like exercises written in a college Creative Writing course. And then they were gathered together cos OMG SE HINTON IS BACK. And then throw in the huge interviews at the back to pad out the book. And the “Tim” thing? It smacks of conceit. And it doesn’t make sense. They’re writing exercises, to get to know a character in a longer book, or to demonstrate you have a grasp of writing fiction. They’re character pieces. Not worthy of a published book.
I feel cheated. I feel I was led to believe I was going to get a full book, a full story that would build on the magic of The Outsiders or Rumble Fish or Tex. Not a series of exercises that a writer may do to help build a new novel, a new world.
I believe this is being published in ebook form for the first time, as the paperback was released in 2009. If you’re a fan of The Outsiders, the only value this book has is the lengthy interview pieces at the end. Which were done in 2006, so they are already old news.
I don’t particularly want to rate this book. The interviews would get 2 stars maybe simply for the information – old as it is – in it. The stories themselves would maybe get 2 stars. The entire thing? Probably a -1.
And now you know why I prefaced this review with that intro.