I think T.J. Klune dislikes me for some reason. I decided this after reading his recent novella, Olive Juice, because there is no other reason a person would want to make me cry as much as he seems to. I’m not talking like one perfect angsty man-tear here either, I’m talking the full waterworks, nose blowing and all.
I won’t rehash the blurb or premise, I’ll just say that if you like anything else by him, you should read it. I was underwhelmed by the premise, but that’s because in order to avoid giving too much away, it’s not well explained. Since I’ve read enough Klune to trust him I picked it up anyway, and I was not at all disappointed.
This is one of those conundrums we’re taught to avoid by college creative writing professors. Never surprise us, they say. You’ll alienate readers, and no one likes to be lied to. And they’re right. Except that they’re also wrong.
Because unlike the writers of Dallas trying to fix enormous mistakes in their previous season, T.J. is up front about the fact that he’s lying to us. He feeds us tidbits of the truth one at a time, like handing us single pieces of the puzzle until we can put together enough to see what he’s made. Different readers will take different amounts of time to figure out what the picture is, but the reveal is satisfying whether you figured out what the picture was beforehand or not.
As I read fiction for escape from dreary reality, I tend to avoid anything that looks like it’s going to make me cry. T.J. is one of those rare authors who can write that tear-jerker, and make me want to pick up the book anyway.