Thanks For The Trouble, by Tommy Wallach pairs a high concept story, unique characters, and excellent writing. Since I’ve been so focused on writing in the last few months, I haven’t been reading a lot. But I knew this was one book I had to get my hands on. In the story, high school writer Parker Santé hasn’t spoken in the five years since his father died. He meets a silver haired girl, Zelda, who looks his age but claims to be over 200 years old. Zelda plans to spend $5,000 (her last money) and then jump of the Golden Gate bridge. In a Halloween romp around the city Zelda tries to get through to isolated Parker as he tries to find experiences that will convince Zelda not to kill herself. It’s part romance, part fantasy, part coming-of-age story. All of it is written in sharp, clever prose I remember from Wallach’s debut last year, We All Looked Up.
The book didn’t hold a lot of immediacy for me. I wasn’t turning pages to find out what would happen. In my only criticism of the book, I didn’t fall in love with either character. At times, it was hard for me to understand if I was supposed to take the book seriously or if it was allegory/fairy tale (not that you shouldn’t take allegory and fairy tale seriously … perhaps literally or earnestly would be a better word). This makes a certain amount of sense in the story though. I think Parker’s confusion on how to view Zelda probably mirrored my view of the book. Should he believe her story or not is a central question within the narrative.
Despite the lack of immediacy, I really enjoyed reading this book. It is told in a series of episodes that all entertain. The interludes of Parker’s own writing are strange and delightful. And reading this book, the story felt completely new – which is no small feat in any kind of story.