I picked up Domestic Violets, by Matthew Norman (Harper Perennial, September 2011) while I was at BEA. I noticed it because of the fabulous bright blue cover with fun typefaces and silhouettes (although I was told the cover could possibly change). I had no clue what it was about, except that it dealt with a man facing life’s disappointments with “goodwilled absurdity,” which was enough to pique my interests.
My first impression of this book was, in a word… penis. I think I was taken aback by all of the immediate phallic conversation in the beginning pages because a) I seem to generally pick up books written by women and therefor forget how much men like to talk about their dicks and b) I read more Young Adult books (which contain chaste kisses and fade to black sex scenes) instead of Grown-Up books. I say “Grown-Up” books because any time I say “Adult” book, people give me weird looks and assume I am talking about porn or erotica. Trust me, if I am reading about the Sheikh and his virgin bride, I’m going to tell y’all about it! Needless to say, while most grown women have been in that “It’s ok honey. It happens to everyone” situation, I don’t often read about in my books, and let me tell you, it was hilarious.
Tom Violet is your average 30 something. Wife, kid, corporate job, secretly writing a novel he’s been working on for years… oh yeah, and his father, Curtis Violet, just happens to be one of America’s most beloved authors. The relationship between Curtis and Tom is really what drove the story for me. His father has been kicked out of his home (again) for cheating on his (4th) wife (again) and finds himself crashing in the guest bedroom (again). Needless to say, that daddy issues abound and are fascinating and humorous to watch unfold. Throw in a 23 year old hot coworker, a wife who is ovulating, and a step-mother younger than him and you get an odd mixture of American Beauty and FMyLife (minus the pedophilia) that you can’t put down. It’s funny, well written and oddly relatable.
No matter what life throws at him, you find yourself cheering on the protagonist, because after so many face-in-palm situations, the guy really has to catch a break. He maintains his sense of humor, if not his dignity, throughout it all. I wish that my internal monolog was as interesting and comical as Tom’s to get me through the day. Ultimately, Tom Violet is someone we all know, which is what makes this such a fabulous and enjoyable book. Be sure to grab it when it hits shelves in September.