Many thanks to namelos for sending me a review copy via NetGalley.
Goodreads Book Blurb: You couldn’t call Mount Rosa Hospital a good place to be in 1957, when you were fourteen. But it’s where Tevan George was, and James Rowley too, “convalescing” from tuberculosis. And it’s where both boys were abused by an older boy–although neither of them did much talking about it, then or later. Shut up! That’s what Tevan did. James too, but he never said much about anything anyway. Nine rocky years later, on the run together since they skipped out on a medical checkup at Mount Rosa’s in 1961, Tevan and James emerge early one morning from the ’55 Chevy they’ve been living in and come across Buddy Merit setting up his “Ten in One” sideshow on a fairground in Ontario. They can’t do magic. They can’t foretell the future. They can’t swallow swords. What Tevan and James decide they can do is a stunt they’ve done only in private, in the dark-a stunt that, performed in public for the marks, takes on a life of its own and surprises even the two young men who perform it. In the company of the misfits and reprobates and losers who make up Buddy Merit’s sideshow, Tevan and James act out the central trauma of their lives until they get to a place from which they can’t go forward and they can’t go back.
My Opinion: There are a lot of negative reviews on Goodreads about this book. I hate to add mine to it, but mine will be for a different reason than subject matter.
A lot of people are not keen on the fact that Sideshow of Merit features erotic asphyxiation. Honestly, I have pretty high limits when it comes to literature, and I was willing to see how Pietsch handled the subject matter.
But the book was just so mind-numbingly slow and boring! I made it 80 pages in on a 350 page book, and very little had happened. If it had, it had happened in such a way that I just wanted something else to happen. I wasn’t drawn to the characters, I wasn’t drawn to the plot, and I kept forgetting that Sideshow of Merit was set in Canada.
Bottom Line: I was really disappointed in this book, as it completely failed to keep me engaged.