Not Just Your Average, Wild, Exciting Story

September 4th, 2019

If you’ve ever heard M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin speak, you’ll know that a collaboration between the two could only amount to something special. And highly intelligent. And different. And thoughtful. And … everything.

Because their work on The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge has already garnered a mass amount of publicity, including a number of starred reviews and is long-listed for the National Book Award, why would I talk abut it here?

The reason: When I went to place a hold on it through my local library system – I figured I might have to wait in line – I found there were a number of copies just sitting on the shelves. Even today, 6 of the 8 copies are available for checkout.

And so I’m giving a shout-out to a book that isn’t in my normal wheelhouse.

The plot, at the outset, sounds simple. Curmudgeonly historian Brangwain Spurge has been catapulted over the mountains by the elfin nation to deliver an artifact to the goblins, a peace offering, he’s told, that may ease the rift that has continued for a century. Poor Brangwain’s travels are anything but smooth. Perhaps worse, he is not taken to the goblin leader but is instead, hosted by Werfel, an enthusiastic archivist who has the notion that they will become true professional camrades. Brangwain Spurge just wants to fulfill his obligations. What happens next is a series of misunderstanding, missteps, and misguided missives (we see these in Eugene Yelchin’s wonderful illustration) that have us wondering exactly how there could ever be a satisfying conclusion.

Here’s where this book veers far from average. As you read, you’ll soon discover that you’re not only involved in an adventure, but a political commentary, a satire, an allegory, a case of unreliable narrators, and a work of undeniable excellence. Oh, and you can categorize it as a road-trip story, too. I see The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge being taught in high school and college courses. I can also see MG and YA readers lapping it up for the plot and for the pictures. And don’t gloss over those pictures; they are a layer unto themselves.

This book will not be for every reader. But it’s not intended to be. It wasn’t for me. And then, it was. A must read!

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@Barrie Summy

7 thoughts on “Not Just Your Average, Wild, Exciting Story”

  1. I’ve never been very good about checking out library books and reading them in time to get them back before the due date. Now that we live far away from town that continues to be the case. But I do believe strongly in having libraries in every town. We just got a new one two years ago. The old one was tiny, tucked under our city hall. Now it is in a large remodeled building in one of our busy central shopping areas with lots of parking. And there are nice sized conference rooms for meetings and author presentations. – Margy

    1. I’m the same about reading in time. But now my library has instituted a new policy that automatically renews a book as long as there’s no waiting list. It’s been great! Yay for your new library!

  2. As I mentioned to you, this book is in my TBR pile. Reading your review got me wondering about which of my four kids would’ve like this book back in their middle school and even high school days. Two, for sure. Maybe more. It’s hard to say with a book that’s wonderfully different! Thank you for reviewing! I’m looking forward to reading this, too.

  3. It sounds like this book took you on a journey of sorts. I’m glad it ended up being a book for you. Thanks for reviewing.

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