Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review: The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

Read 8/14/12 - 8/20/12
5 Stars - Highly Recommended / The Next Best Book for ALL THE REASONS
Pgs: 276
Publisher: Algonquin
Release Date: August 28, 2012

Can I just say "Fucking Awesome! Go Buy It" and call it a day? Do you really need me to go into all the reasons why I want you to experience Jonathan Evison's The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving for yourself? Because I will. Oh, you can bet I will.

For starters, it features some of the coolest man-speak I have ever come across in literary fiction. Hell, in ANY fiction:  "Turd-Cutters", "Gorilla Masks", "German Knuckle Cakes", "Moroccan Meatballs", and Disappearing Pandas", just to name a FEW. Never mind the fact that I have no clue what those all mean. And please don't take that as an invitation to leave a comment and tell me, because I had too much fun imagining them for myself, and knowing what they really mean (or worse, that they don't really exist) would crush my already-fragile soul. You don't want to be responsible for crushing my soul, do you?!

And second, Jonathan Evison knows relationships. Wait, let me rephrase that. Jonathan Evison knows dysfunction and specializes in making it parade itself around as a relationship. In TRFoC, we have what should be a cry-fest of a novel from the moment you crack the cover to the snot-covered fingering of the final pages. But does Evison take the easy way out and write sappy, heart broken, woe-is-me characters that would feel at home in the middle of a Lifetime Movie set? Oh hell no! He takes the things that should have left them broken and beaten and, instead, he gives them the strength to deal with their individual grief and tragedies as a group through huge heaps of laughter and sarcasm. He knows how to manage his characters through awkward and sometimes humiliating circumstances without making us bat an eye. And he makes it all seem so natural, so possible, so... familiar. He brings the characters to you and places each one of them inside your heart where you will carry them around with you wherever you go. You will want to protect them all, from anything that might cause them pain or sadness.

Which leads to the third: Evison's novel is such a great demonstration of human resilience. Whether it's Ben learning to forgive himself for the death of his children, or Trev finding the courage to overcome his body's crippling limitations to kiss a girl for the first time, TRFoC dissects what it's like to simply be. To step outside of your routine. To plan and pack and check and double check and then how to just give in when the plans give out. To remove the safety net and suddenly realize that you never really needed it to begin with.

In conclusion, (and here's the big sell...) it's a road trip story. It's a coming-into-your-own story. It's a you-can-never-be-prepared-for-whats-just-around-the-corner story. It's a taking-the-rulebook-and-throwing-it-out-the-fucking-window-at-sixty-miles-an-hour story. It's a it-might-not-be-a-bad-idea-to-have-a-tissue-laying-around-somewhere-within-reach-but-I-swear-it's-not-an-ugly-cry story. And yes, it's a I've-got-to-tell-everyone-I-know-to-run-out-and-read-this-book-right-now story.

Let me leave you with this: If my review didn't just seal the deal, this adorable book trailer MOST DEFINITELY will!!


  1. Just finished it last night. Couldn't agree more. GO EFFING BUY IT!

    One of my favorite parts of the novel was the idea of how best laid plans go awry - but when they do, you have to be resilient enough to roll with the punches. I don't know if Evison has kids or not (I don't), but he really writes parenthood convincingly, as well. Plus, as you say, he's hilarious.

    Five stars from me, too. Enjoyed reading your review!

  2. Hooray! So glad to hear you liked it. Jonathan does have kids (one with one on the way, I believe). This is the first novel of his that I've read but I have the other two sitting here... dying to be read now! I think the thing I loved most about the novel was how easily Evison brought out the humorous in what could havebeen a very sad and depressing book. Looking forward to reading your review!

  3. I'm convinced. It sounds like a crazy, amazing book that must be read. And I'm a sucker for a roadtrip novel.

    By the way, you pretty much had me at "..from the moment you crack the cover to the snot-covered fingering of the final pages".

  4. I blogged about The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (in relation to a recent caregiving debate) and referenced your review: