Thursday, September 20, 2012
Malcom, or Mal, is over half a ton. He is the fattest man in England. He went to bed on his 25th birthday, never to arise again. This is the novel equivalent of the TLC special "The Half Ton Teen" or "Half Ton Man."
Mal grew up as a fairly popular boy and teen. Girls liked him, his brother envied him, but he was eccentric. He began taking his clothes off in public, walking around naked never providing a reason why. Mal's mother is a woman who only knows how to care for others. She is the type that cannot function if she is not doting on another person, doing everything for them. She enabled Mal to become the size of a whale. Mal's father, distant and full of regret, hides away in the attic working on various projects trying to overcome his demons. Mal's brother, the narrator of the story, falls in love with Mal's girlfriend and is often forgotten about. Even as I am writing this I cannot think of his name off the top of my head.
A dysfunctional family saga, "Bed" chronicles Mal's and his brother's childhood leading up to the day the family home must be opened with a crane to finally remove Mal after 20 years.
David Whitehouse attempts to write with humor; however, I did not find this to be a comical story. I found it depressing, yet real. The family dynamic is one that is often seen throughout America; the Black Sheep, the enabling parent, the distant non involved parent, and the forgotten about "decent" child.
I was often horrified by this book just as I am when I watch Hoarders on TV. How can someone feed their son to be over 1,000 pounds? How can two other family members allow it to go on for over 20 years? How can this happen in real life?? This book is a complete train wreck, and I am still not completely sure about my thoughts of it. I recommend it because it is so different, but also do not recommend it because it left me feeling sickened.
Read at your own risk.