Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Review: Raw, a Novel

When I was a kid, my grandparents kept a milk cow so that they could enjoy the pleasures of fresh milk. They tried to convince me that this raw product was better than the kind that came in cartons. Despite their best efforts, I was never converted to their way of thinking.

After reading Steven Revare’s Raw, a Novel, though, I’m thinking I may have missed out on something special back then. Thankfully, I didn’t miss out on this quirky novel. Raw follows Carl Krauthammer as he attempts to exchange his accounting career path for that of a writer’s. After the collapse of his marriage, he leaves the East Coast Manhattan for the Midwestern Manhattan, Kansas, in order to study under the tutelage of his favorite novelist, Julian Frye. Carl imagines that life will be simpler back in Kansas; he couldn’t be more wrong. Instead, he finds a town full of breast-feeding activists, aggressive philosophy students, and the same corporate cogs he thought he’d left back in that other Manhattan. Of course, he also discovers an illegal dairy that sells raw milk and other dairy products, which is the source of the novel’s title.

Every character in this novel is as familiar as they are unique. Julian Frye reminded me of a burnt-out author who taught creative writing at the university I attended. Carl’s girlfriend, Susan Hirschman, bore a strong resemblance to many of my feminist professors. However, the quirks that Mr. Revare gives these and his other characters are inspired.

Raw has done something my grandparents never could – it has made me wish I could try fresh milk. There must be something magical about the stuff for it to inspire such a funny, fantastic book.

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