Getting Into My Comfort Zone

ImageI read Panorama City by Antoine Wilson as a recommendation. Frankly, when I read the synopsis, I wondered how this novel would be…interesting.

A young man buries his father and travels to Panorama City, not far from his home, to become “a man of the world.” Ok. It’s kind of like a travel story; one where the protagonist needs to go on a journey and find himself, right?

While that does seem to be the structure, this novel takes that hero journey and makes it occur in a more mundane setting. That’s a real challenge. How do you get the reader interested in something we all know too well. We pass fast-food chains all of the time without reveling in it. I take the bus and avoid eye contact with the other people looking down the road, waiting for our ride.

While I was worried I wouldn’t get into this book, I realized I had to give it time and patience. The protagonist, Oppen, calls himself a “slow-absorber.” He is not extremely bright. But his reflections on his 40 day excursion into Panorama City are…well, fascinating! And some of his insights into who he meets and what he experiences are illuminating.

I think it’s a huge challenge to take a commonplace setting and make it interesting. Wilson is able to accomplish that feat.