2 out of 4 stars
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It can be horribly frustrating to deal with people who just do not understand your creative vision. Whether it’s gardening, writing, or spy operations, sometimes it’s hard to communicate with people who see things much differently than you do. In this book, Frederick Robertson introduces the reader to Billy Olin. Billy is a frustrated writer living in a condo community with a very strict HOA. He feels stifled, uninspired, and desperate to escape his living situation. Crooked Creek: A Comedy about Writer's Block and a Neurotic Home Owners Association details his struggles and adventures in dealing with the residents and managers of his condo community.
According to Billy, everyone that he talks to is also a writer. As soon as people hear about his occupation they start to tell him about their own writing projects. Billy would much rather talk about himself and his own goals, so he is frustrated by these interactions. Billy wrote one successful book and then wasted a bunch of time partying and spending the money that he made. With the last of his money, he moved to his current condo and buckled down to write his next book. He has some run-ins with his local HOA board members, neighbors, car dealers, and real-estate tycoons that both help and hinder him in this goal.
Much of the entertainment in this book comes from the side characters. Billy is a bitter, opportunistic, manipulative technophobe who is only interested in things that will benefit him. My favorite parts of this book are the descriptions of some of the people Billy encounters on his journey. Jose, the local car salesman, will wear a different outfit according to what he thinks his next customer would like to see. Shane, Billy’s agent, is great at getting Billy motivated to write and constantly hypes up his work. Mrs. Smith works for the condo community while organizing covert spy missions on the side. I really enjoyed this cast of characters and think that the author did a great job playing all of the different personalities off of each other.
My least favorite part of this book was the way that the story got wrapped up. Billy ran into some obstacles and inconveniences along the way, but I very much wanted to see him get some sort of comeuppance by the end of the story. Billy is definitely cruel and unkind to the people around him but seems to get away with it in the end.
This book could use a lot of polishing and editing. I loved a lot of the characters and dialogue, but a large number of grammatical errors and choppy sentences kept me from really getting involved with the story. I did enjoy the smaller page count of this story. The book’s length made it feel like a quick, fun read.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy shorter novels and character-focused narration. The reader experiences this book entirely from Billy’s perspective and his unique point of view colors each interaction that he has. There is some sexual content and swearing in this book, so I would not recommend it to younger readers.
I would rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. I would not rate it one star because I did get a lot of enjoyment out of reading about Billy’s trials and tribulations. I would not rate it 3 or even 4 stars because while this book has a lot of potential, it does still need some proofreading and editing to really shine.
Crooked Creek: A Comedy about Writer's Block and a Neurotic Home Owners Association
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