Flea Circus: a brief bestiary of grief
New Issues/Western Michigan University, 2012.
Izzy has a hard time coping with her grief after her entomologist lover Tim commits suicide by falling down a tenement airshaft. As she works through her loss with the help of another entomologist, Pudge Goroguchi, she goes to her banker job and also helps out at Tim’s brother’s bar while doing mathematical equations and wondering if she’s pregnant. Tim left behind a flea circus, so Izzy befriends Pudge, who also loves fleas, as a fill-in lover. As each short chapter unfolds, the reader will either delight in the “whip-smart narration,” like one reviewer did – or become frustrated with the too-witty urban hipster language that goes nowhere and does little to move the plot forward, like I did.
I started this slim volume with high expectations but quickly grew tired of the clever writing and lack of plot. I felt like Izzy was trying too hard to impress the reader with her smartness and her hipness. She did not feel like a real person to me. Reviewers used words like “enthralling,” “hilarious,” and “a must for fans of literary fiction” to describe this book. This reviewer, on the other hand, believes other terms, like “tedious,” “nonsensical,” and “not worth the paper it’s printed on” would be more accurate.
Needless to say, I did not finish it.
Other titles you may enjoy:
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (1993)
The narrator and his friends piece together the events that led up to suicides of the Lisbon girls, brainy Therese, fastidious Mary, ascetic Bonnie, libertine Lux, and saintly Cecilia.
The Surface of Earth by Reynolds Price (1995)
Eva Kendal, 16, elopes with her Latin teacher, twice her age, in 1903 and begins a dysfunctional family line in North Carolina.
Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson (1981)
Ruth, a young girl struggling to overcome haunting family memories in a town which will not let her forget, gradually grows close to Sylvie, the sister of her dead mother.