NABOKV-L post 0017465, Sun, 14 Dec 2008 19:30:18 -0500

Book Review: The Punch ...

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Book Review: The Punch by Noah Hawley
Written by Amanda BittlePublished December 10, 2008

Vladimir Nabokov was fond of telling tales through the introspection of monsters. Sociopaths, kidnappers, killers, child molesters: he gave them human voices, explained their sides of the story.

While the characters in Noah Hawley's The Punch are not monsters on the scale of Hermann or Humbert, their actions are similarly unsympathetic and in need of explanation. That emotionally abusive, alcoholic mother? She’s still reeling from childhood abandonment. That philandering husband who’s juggling two wives and four children? Despite all his material success, there’s a persistent, gnawing emptiness he can’t seem to escape.

Like Nabokov’s monsters, Hawley’s characters still come off as being pretty low. They win some sympathy, but their actions are hard to excuse. Plenty of people experience emotional pain and feelings of hopelessness without projecting their demons onto everyone they love.

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