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The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac (edition 2012)

by Kris D'Agostino

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857141,824 (3.32)2
Member:pateke
Title:The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac
Authors:Kris D'Agostino
Info:Algonquin Books (2012), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Read 2012
Rating:****
Tags:fiction

Work details

The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac by Kris D'Agostino

Recently added bydonnambr, private library, boudreauxh, whatels, dysmonia, aremkay, JoLynnsbooks, Rainviolet
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The reviews said this was supposed to be funny. I honestly can't say if it is or not because I disliked the book so much I never finished it.
I wanted to like it, but the main character bored me to tears. An over-privileged under-stimulated middle class college graduate with no direction in his life bemoaning his fate. His father has cancer, his sister is pregnant, his mother is struggling to pay the bills, but Calvin's biggest concern is how he's going to save enough to get his own apartment and pay his student loan.
If that's not the definition of a shallow unlikeable character I don't know what is. Every time I picked up this book I lost interest after only a few pages. Enough's enough. I'm done. I hate whiny novels.

( )
  Rainviolet | Jan 10, 2014 |
Drugs, depression, dysfunctional families, death, and a few really funny moments. I would've preferred a few more laughs and something a little less soul-crushing. Good dialogue.

If you liked this book, you might also like The African Safari Papers. ( )
  mcenroeucsb | Nov 29, 2012 |
Twenty four year old Calvin Moretti is not living the dream. Living back home with his parents and employed at a job he doesn’t want, Cal is stuck. His father, a career pilot, has been grounded while undergoing cancer treatments and is convinced that he will not survive. His mother is frantically trying to save their home from foreclosure, his teenage sister is pregnant, and his frustratingly responsible older brother has come home to help. Torn between family responsibility and pursuit of his own happiness, Cal must decide whether to stick around or get out with his sanity intact.
This is a poignant debut that is both funny and moving and full of quirky, memorable characters. If you like dysfunctional but loveable family drama, The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac will not disappoint. ( )
  suballa | Jul 18, 2012 |
After graduating from college with an ever-so-useful degree in film studies, Calvin drops out of graduate school and moves back home, where he finds life as he knew it quickly falling apart. His father, an airline pilot, has been diagnosed with cancer and is morosely awaiting his death (although his disease is treatable and the prognosis is good.) His mom is struggling to pay the mortgage on the reduced income Dad's disability brings in. Big brother Chip (the successful son) is at home, too, and helping to pay the bills. Little sister Elissa is still in high school and has just told Calvin she is pregnant. To help earn his own way, Calvin is working with autistic children, for minimum wage, and spending his spare time hanging out with his old high school friends.

Although this title has its amusing moments, the reader can't help being overtaken by Calvin's aimless lifestyle and his pessimism. There are some wonderful characters, and the scenes at the school are quite touching. The relationships between Calvin and his family are also well-drawn, if a bit over the top. All in all, though, it's just a rather depressing story about a young man who has no idea who he is or what he wants to do with his life. ( )
  alexann | Jun 5, 2012 |
Calvin Moretti is a jerk. Despite being in his twenties, he behaves like a teenager, collecting vintage vinyl and sinking further into debt. While he wants to be a man of the world, he ends up moving back home with his parents. In fact, every decision he makes, or drifts into, leads him backwards.

The timing home is difficult; his overachieving and obnoxious brother is also home for an indefinite time, and his little sister has rejoined the nest. It all seems to be coming together for a Hallmark moment when the reader learns that the father of these children is dying of cancer. All those kids, all that potential help! Caregiving and getting to know each other, creating precious memories.

But no. This is not that family. Because "Dad" is not a Hallmark moment patient. He keeps a Colt .45 in his robe. Shooting at life-size family images through a window at night is just something to do. He's bunkered down, stocking the house with everything he can to beat a potential enemy, just not the one that is killing him from within. He makes Calvin promise to be with him in the end, and gives away his fears, it seems, only to Calvin.

An ensemble cast and a family drama like this usually leaves an author plenty of room to make it all work out with lots of hints at impending unity. That despite it all, they'll end up closer and wiser.

But no. This is not that author. Kris D'Agostino doesn't take the shortcuts. He creates characters that are messed up, and that much more real for their flaws. Recognizing that challenges don't always bring out the best in us, he doesn't insult the reader by tidying up their sometimes ugly lives. For example, Calvin works with disadvantaged and disabled children. Perfect setup to make him a sympathetic character, but D'Agostino doesn't go there. Calvin is just as much a jerk at work, impatient with these kids, and we see just how atypical he is. And here's the thing: the more layers of flaws and complications put on each character don't just make them difficult, it actually draws us in.

So how can you work a plot around some extraordinarily complicated characters? D'Agostino does so by making everything a surprise. A push and pull comes from moments when Calvin looks towards the future:

"What's going to happen to us?" I ask.

"In what context?" David asks.

"In the context of life," I say. "A year from now I'll be twenty-five. My father got married when he was twenty-five. He bought a house. I have nothing to show for it."

"We don't want those things," Wally says.
.....

"Maybe we need to grow up," I say. "At least a little. maybe it isn't all about us."

Yet pages later, Calvin is still short-sighted as always, looking for the perfect drug to deaden such questions about life. These moments occur for the rest of the family, as their worry over their Dad and money and a new complication presents itself. Many twists keep the tension ratcheted up, and it's difficult to put it down once you've started. Possibly because, while most families like to imagine they are the Cosby's, the Walton's, or the Cleaver's, the reality is that they are the Simpson's. And the Simpson's are what most of us understand. ( )
1 vote BlackSheepDances | May 22, 2012 |
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Twenty-four-year-old college dropout Calvin Moretti moves back home with his parents and two siblings and is forced to deal with their problems, which include his father's cancer and his sister's pregnancy, as well as his own.

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