“There are pages that are just fall down funny” is the quote on the cover of this debut novel by Brady Udall, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. After wading through 400 pages of this strange and at times grotesque book, I did not find ONE funny part. Since my book group concurred with my opinion, I do not think this has anything to do with my sense of humor.
The books follows the life of Edgar Mint, a dirt-poor Native American boy living on a reservation, who at the age of 7 is run over by a mailman. What part of his body is run over you may be asking? His head. The tire literally rolls over the side of his head. Left for dead, the first of many “miracles” occurs in that Edgar lives and spends a few months recovering in a hospital where he meets Doctor Barry, aka a future drug addict who is obsessed with Edgar and spends his life hunting him down.
Edgar is then sent to an Indian School where the fun times begins. Some of the hilarious incidents include incessant bullying at the hands of his classmates who actually make him eat shit; the time when his classmates light a rolled-up newspaper on fire and shove it up his best friends ass, or the time he tries to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff. Are you beginning to understand why I don’t get that this book is toted as being fall down funny?
Edgar is “saved” from the school by converting to Mormonism and being relocated to a dysfunctional Mormon family. At this stage in the book, you are hoping that he can finally find a nice family and lead a somewhat “normal” childhood. Instead, the family is completely whacky including the son, known as the Brain, who torments Edgar and the mom who ends up having an affair with Dr. Barry (see reference above for his obsession with Edgar).
The novel ends with Edgar leaving the Mormons to fulfill his lifelong mission of finding the mailman who ran over him so that he can tell him that he is alive and well. Lo and behold, the mailman is dead but his wife then reveals to Edgar that she and the mailman were planning on adopting Edgar but with the cruel twist of fate in which they thought Edgar was dead, they lived out the rest of their lives miserable. The book neatly wraps up with Edgar meeting a woman with kids and living happily ever after. I know I just gave away the ending but since I don’t want anyone to read this book – who cares.
If the author was trying to show that Edgar led a miracle life because he survived and in the end was going to end up a happy adult, I just don’t buy it. There is no way that this kid who was off-kilter (as demonstrated by him keeping a urinal cake (yes – you read it correctly a urinal cake) as a good luck charm) and went through so much trauma was going to turn out okay.
This was one of those books that I can’t figure out what the author’s purpose was in writing it. I hated this book. And to add insult to injury, Michael Stipe’s film production company optioned the rights to the book. I just don’t get it……..