Lucas' Book Difficult to Describe in Simple Terms of 'Like' or 'Dislike'
Jonny Effing Lucas’s “Confrontational French” was a boldly written comedy that ultimately read as indulgent rather than truly funny.
I found myself re-reading a lot of passages to find the meaning or the motive of scenes, as many seem to come out of left-field. I kept finding myself lost on the logic of things until I accepted that much of the book was a series of one-liners and entertaining absurdity.
The relationship Lucas crafts between protagonists, conmen Andrew and Bruce was well done. Even when certain scenes felt bizarre or far-fetched, there was a grounding force between the two of them.
Though I liked the overall dynamic between the two protagonists, I wondered often if people really spoke to each other the way Lucas wrote.
The contrived dialogue seemed more concerned with offering punch lines than it did with adhering to authenticity. To be fair, some of the punchy lines worked to bring a smile or a chuckle, but I wanted it to read less like a comedy movie script.
When the conmen get conned – predictably by a con woman – it plays out a bit like a cheesy sitcom, but I decided to roll with it and I found that it was rather amusing after all. Lucas has a way of crafting over-done slapstick style comedy that makes it charming and keeps it from being mildly irritating.
I was still waiting for the laugh track and the percussive sting throughout the story. This humor can work effectively, and the book was a fun romp, but I wasn’t as captivated by the ludicrous turns and the crude zingers.
Through the chaos and odd adventures, there was some insightful and well-crafted writing. Peppered throughout the story were also cringe-worthy moments and bizarre choices in phrase that at first completely threw me off, but I read it with the assumption that it was intentional and therefore meant to get a rise out of the reader. In this way, Lucas was very effective.
The book was also short enough and fast-paced enough that flaws were brief. And there was a lot of power in the way Lucas kept the reader curious through cons, the thread of funny attempts at speaking French, and the well-imagined relationship between Bruce and Andrew.
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