I had very mixed feelings about All About Lulu. There’s a lot to like: Evison’s prose is fresh and vivid, with lots of unusual metaphors (the first chapter, “The World Is Made of Meat,” is a stunner). The dialogue is crisp and credible, and Evison gets compellingly deep into his narrator’s head. I loved how the Cabazon Dinosaurs figured in the story (and also loved learning that they really exist).
On the other hand, this is a pretty creepy book. Narrator Will crushes hard unsurprisingly, on his step-sister Lulu in adolescence. Initially she seems — to him, at least — to reciprocate his unsiblingly feelings, but after the set-up chapters it becomes clear — to everyone except Will — that she doesn’t anymore. And Will. Does. Not. Let. Go. He’s gripped by the fallacious notion that there’s some magic formula that will rekindle Lulu’s affection for him. It leads him to do some pretty shitty stuff, and at times it was difficult for me to ride along in Will’s head. (Narrator Will is looking back from an unspecific older/sadder/wiser vantage point and frequently reminds the reader that he’s “not proud” of this or that; I read this as an attempt on Evison’s part to ameliorate Will’s unsympatheticness, but it didn’t quite work for me. And maybe I should admit that I’m not a stranger to the “find a way to make her love me again” myth, because that probably impacted my gut emotional reaction to Will’s transgressions.)
It made perfect sense to me that one of the novel’s back-jacket pull-quotes was from Tim Sandlin. All About Lulu has a slightly similar dynamic to Sandlin’s Skipped Parts, particularly that the viewpoint character is dramatically less emotionally mature than the more worldly crush object. My reaction also followed a similar dynamic; I was initially charmed by Skipped Parts, but found it (and the following books) increasingly disturbing as they progressed.
I’m curious to see what’s next from Evison; I hope he explores some different thematic territory.
needs more demons? I actually felt there was a demon surfeit, although maybe that’s in part because the book woke up some of my own.
2 thoughts on “Jonathan Evison: All About Lulu”
. . . nice review, thanks for the coverage! . . . you’ll be glad to know that i’ve gone somewhere completely different with my next novel, “west of here,” which comes out next february, here’s a link to ‘west of here’ on goodreads! . . .