I received the book Treasure Island!!! (176 pages, Europa Editions) by Sara Levine courtesy of The Rumpus Book Club. My reading schedule for the blog has been crazy lately, so I haven’t had time to read the monthly Rumpus selection for several months. I really didn’t have time to this month, but a couple of days ago I reached into my mailbox and pulled out the latest Rumpus selection. It’s called Treasure Island!!! (Yes, the three exclamation points are part of the title, and they are warranted. It’s a very exciting book.) Despite the intriguingly punctuated title, I was still loathe to drop everything to read a book not on my schedule. I sat and read the front and back matter and the blurbs on the inside. Turns out, a bunch of people I admire wrote glowing reviews of Treasure Island!!!, and praise has been heaped upon it’s author Sara Levine. People like Alice Sebold, Adam Levin, Marcy Dermansky, and David Wain loved it. Schedule be damned! I decided to give it a read.
Treasure Island!!! is the story of a twenty something college graduate who is having a bit of a hard time adjusting to life after college. She finds and leaves one dead end, slacker job after another. When the book opens she has just read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson for the first time. She is immediately enraptured by the adventuresome spirit of the book and decides to start living her life based on the four basic principles exhibited in the book: boldness, resolution, independence, and horn-blowing. The narrator, armed with a newfound desire to live the Treasure Island lifestyle and a very limited understanding of the book itself, proceeds to live her life based on these principles. She wreaks havoc on everyone unlucky enough to be associated with her in the process. And it is hysterical!
This book is funny. I mean it. It’s pee in your pants funny. The beginning of the book which involves the unnamed narrator working at a Pet Library –exactly how it sounds- introduces readers to the narcissistic, kind of douche-like behavior of the narrator. For example, she buys a parrot (named Little Richard) without having any idea how to care for it and never bothers to find out how to take care of it. She immediately thinks it’s gross, noisy, etc. Some of the funniest scenes I’ve read in a long time involve the parrot. Poor, poor Little Richard…
Treasure Island!!! really came alive for me towards the middle of the book when the narrator moved back in with her parents. The dynamic between the narrator and her sister is pitch perfect in reference to the comic timing in the scenes. A couple of the interactions between the sisters reminded me of the movie Step-Brothers.
The narrator in Treasure Island!!! is a bit like Marie in Marcy Dermansky’s novel Bad Marie. She pillages and plunders her way through the lives of everyone she encounters with very little regret. And like Dermansky before her, Levine has created the type of female protagonist that I love to read: A woman at the center of a raunchy, no holds barred comedy. A mean version of Alan in The Hangover. A woman who slings her own arrows of destruction with haphazard aim.
You can learn more about The Rumpus Book Club by clicking here. TRBC is truly a must for any book blogger looking for a heads up on upcoming, cutting edge novels.
Click here to check out Sara Levine’s playlist for Treasure Island!!! over at the music and literature blog Largehearted Boy.