Corpse Of Freedom: An American Novel

Book Reviews | Jul 4th, 2008

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Author: Dax Gardner & Lloyd Gardner
Publisher: Books On Fire
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 207
Retail Price: 9.99
Buy on Amazon.com link

This is the Gardner Brothers’ debut novel and it shows. A revisiting of suburban high school life, the book follows a small group of unlikable teens as they dig up a corpse for kicks, exchange irritating banter, and generally be obnoxious.

The sad thing is that I don’t think the characters are meant to be unlikable. You get the sense that this is one of those “I’m in my 20s and writing about myself in high school, only my character will be self-assured, gettin’ laid from hot, crazy chicks, and saying all the cool, witty things I wish I had said back then.” If the main character is indeed a stand-in for one or both of the Gardners, I feel bad for their former classmates.

Besides the ridiculously unrealistic dialogue and two-dimensional characters (the only female characters are crazy bitches or sluts), the plot is also insipid and lacking any real commentary. This could’ve been a satire on disaffected and violence-numb suburban youth (cue Neil Peart: “Subdivisions!”), but any attempt at substance beyond angst is laughable. The corpse left a diary, which isn’t a bad device to impact the story or provide social commentary, but unfortunately, the diary is a hackneyed, cheesed-out riff on Holden Caulfield. The main character, perhaps to his credit, doesn’t change or grow at all from it. If anything, he becomes even more of an asshole.

If this book has any value, it’s to remind us of the shittiness of high school. The Gardners, however, seem to be reliving it in all its alpha-jock glory.

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