Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book review: The Quality of Life Report

Daum, Meghan. The Quality of Life Report. New York:Viking, 2003.

I had wanted to read this book for a long time, and I finally got a chance to listen to it through the NetLibrary audiobook download site through the Tuscaloosa Public Library.  The novel ends somewhat abruptly, as if the open-ended narrative reflects the openness of the landscape and the making it up as we go along lives of the people of the Midwest as depicted in this novel. Daum takes her main character, a transplanted Easterner who sets down to report on the life in Prairie City, Midwest, down many unexpected paths; her resolute determination not to go down clichéd paths to happiness is one of the strengths of the book. Every time I was ready to give up on the book for its pat look at New Yorkers and Midwesterners, Daum throws us a curve. The book hit home for me because I made a similar exodus in 1986, leaving NYC for Columbia, Mo., for some of the same reasons. I loved the bit where she tries to explain God to her boyfriend's daughter. By turns acerbically funny and mildly absurd (and sad), the novel is a lot of fun. 

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