Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel (2 out of 5)



This is a book I just picked up at work when doing returns one day recently. It’s a new release in paperback, I just happened to find it while straightening out the shelf from sending half of it back. (It’s a process, these publisher returns, let me tell you). I hadn’t heard of Fiona Maazel before this, and the plot of the book, well, to say it’s right up my alley is pretty on the money. And it was, a little bit of humor, a lot of dry wit, some wild darkness, and some loneliness. And we’ve all been there, so let’s read more about it! I wish I could have gotten into it and more out of it than i did. I had a hard time getting through this one, in parts. There were parts of it that are absolutely hilarious, parts that are darker than the soul of a plastic pygmy, and parts that completely confuse. It was a hard read, only because the darkness overtook what should have been more humor, lurking under the surface. I think Maazel needed to bring more lightness into this. Instead it’s very, very bleak. Almost too much to be redeemed. 

Thurlow Dan (I already have a problem here, the character’s first and last names appear to be in reverse) is the leader of a group known as The Helix. Those of us who read the description given in the first couple of chapters will think of two words: Cult and Scientology. (Free of charge- same thing, different words). Thurlow is exploiting loneliness in people who will do just about anything to feel loved and connect with another human being(s) who are feeling the same. The cult, for the record, is the tie that binds those lonely souls to one another. Of course, there isn’t much dignity in how Thurlow and his people go about their business. His ex wife, Esme, whom he appears to either be still in love with or obsessed over (think “Every Breath You Take”), is working for the Feds in trying to take him and the cult down. I like the character of Esme. She has spunk, she’s realistic, and she’s not being fooled by any of this. Things accelerate to a hostage situation and what happens. The book goes through Thurlow and Esme’s courtship, marriage, divorce, and how the Helix came to be. The hostage situation? Parts funny and parts heartbreaking. Does Thurlow get his ex back? Does Esme get her ex sent down the river? Is the Helix brought down? What happens to the hostages? What happens to her and Thurlow’s daughter? So many questions, so few answers. 

I wanted so badly for this novel to work its magic on me. Instead, I felt gutted. Absolutely gutted. It’s one of those books where you feel like so many opportunities are missed, and those that are taken advantage of are the ones that the Dark Arts are responsible for. And not the cool Dark Arts as represented in Harry Potter. More like the ones that destroy people systematically. Truthfully? I had no idea what to make of this novel. It is a brilliant idea to examine this dark side of American reality, but this empties you out and hangs you out on the clothesline to dry in the middle of a driving rainstorm. I tried to find more humor here, and it is billed as a dark comic novel, and it is but there has to be some light here. I didn’t find much, so I can’t give it much. 

~ by generationgbooks on April 10, 2014.

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