That wasn't the case when I got to the midpoint of Out of Sorts. I started to wonder whether I had wandered into a dream sequence and had missed the cues that set up the ridiculousness of the events that occurred. Nope, no such misses, so it was also at that point that I wanted what started out as a quirky but entertaining read to just freaking end.
Set in France, Out of Sorts is a quick-read that can best be described as a madcap of a story about Ferdinand Brun, a miserable octogenarian who eventually learns to open his heart and get involved with life. These changes are brought upon by his interactions with his new neighbor, ten-year-old precocious Juliette who dispenses language and advice like an adult, and his nonagenarian neighbor Beatrice Claudel who lives each day as if it's her last.
Out of Sorts is a moralistic tale with a focus on the experiences of those who are lonely in old age: a pervasive sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and uselessness. It's a story about how building and maintaining relationships truly becomes a lifeline when one is in old age.
The way in which the story conveys these points, though, is quite...eccentric. I don't know how else to put it. This is a story that I read imagining it being told by a narrator in the tone of Pushing Daises (2007) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) or a movie in the style of The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). You know the kind: almost tongue in cheek?
Writing-wise, this story has a few issues. Plot elements felt rushed and development of characters seemed limited, but strangely, I think that aspect fit the story based on the tone that I interpreted. My major gripe though is that the WTF elements midway through the story unnerved and took me way out of the narrative in a way that diminished my humor and enjoyment of the early chapters and overall book.
Still, accepting Out of Sorts for the zany story that I think it was meant to be, I recommend it.
Crossposted at CBR8 here.