“History is just the memories you haven’t had yet. History is this cycle of arrogance and fall, arrogance and fall, and as soon as something happens, you can’t remember when you didn’t know it would happen, when there was any other outcome than the one in front of you.”
What is this book about?
Citizen Vince is about Vince Camden, a man who used to live in New York City under a different name. However, a witness-protection program has led him to Spokane, Washington where he now works in a donut shop, baking – wait for it – donuts. Vince being a citizen isn’t something that we should take for granted, since back in New York City he used to be a criminal. Not the killing kind, but he still did some bad things. It’s not surprising then that Vince hasn’t forgotten his old habits in Spokane; besides baking donuts he is also, for lack of a better word, a credit card scammer. Everything is going fairly well for Vince, but when an old ‘friend’ of his past suddenly shows up in Spokane, he has do deal with some old ghosts. To make all of this even more interesting: Citizen Vince is set in 1980s America, and its backdrop is the presidential election of Jimmy Carter vs. Ronald Reagan. In an almost philosophical way Vince’s story and the American political universe are tightly connected.
Why is it boring?
This book is set in 1980s America and, as one of my epic American history teachers once told us while lecturing about 1980s America (note: he was an American): “this is the worst and most boring decade of American history!” Anyway, I won’t tell you what came after this, because it was a lecture, and lectures can be pretty long. But even if you do like the eighties but are not really into some stereotypical aspects of a crime novel, namely A: a grumpy thirty-something/almost forty protagonist, B: corrupt cops, C: a needy prostitute that wants to be a real estate agent and D: a myriad of characters from the criminal world with ditto vocabulary, then I assume that this is definitely not the enlightening read that you might be looking for.
Who would you recommend it to?
Anyone who is into crime novels, thrillers, 1980s America and the more original crime (sub)plot. Oh, and don’t forget American politics.
Why should I read it if it’s boring?!
If you love grumpy characters that, although they have a big mouth still have a tiny heart as well, have a likening for the shady world that is Spokane, Washington, are into New York City, ánd a refreshing subplot of a presidential election that plays a crucial role in Citizen Vince, then this is the novel for you. Jess Walter did win an Edgar Allen Poe Award with Citizen Vince, and I must say, that although I’m not the most avid crime reader, it is a fun read. Despite the obvious stereotypes, it is still a quite original and refreshing crime read, mostly because of the Carter vs Reagan presidential election in the background. The idea of politics as a symbol for change in a crime novel is something I haven’t read about before. Also, if you’ve read Beautiful Ruins, and couldn’t get enough, then you should definitely read Citizen Vince, because it does show an exciting new side of Jess Walter.
This Boring Book Recommendation is written by Maritza Dubravac, Bored to Death book club newest contributor. She also writes for Books & Bubbles, Hebban.nl about books and sometimes dabbles in food writing at Nadelunch.com.
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