Book: The Painting of Porcupine City
Publication date: August 29, 2011
Length: 390 pages
Reviewed by Erin
Brazilian graffiti artist Mateo Amaral is looking for his heaven spot, the one perfect place to paint. His coworker Fletcher Bradford is looking for a heaven spot of his own, and his is even more elusive. Out since age 12, Fletcher's been around more blocks than Mateo has ever painted. He's dated all the jerks, all the creeps, all the losers in between. At 26 he's decided the only way to meet a nice guy is just never to give him a chance to prove otherwise. When he's introduced to Mateo, Fletcher expects to add another notch to his bedpost. But Mateo is different--and from him Fletcher will rediscover a long-lost feeling: surprise. What Fletcher finds in the trunk of Mateo's car will change his life in ways he never imagined--and may help him find what he's always wanted.
From the author of THE CRANBERRY HUSH comes an epic story spanning years and hemispheres and miles of painted walls. At times sexy and sweet, gritty and gut-wrenching, THE PAINTING OF PORCUPINE CITY takes readers along with Mateo and Fletcher on an adventure through the subways of Boston to the towers of São Paulo. Are you in?
There are times when, as a reader, the right book comes along at just the right time. You could be in a reading slump; you know one of those where nothing you see is exactly what you want. You could need a pick me up after having a bad day or being sad. Then there are those times when you want something that grabs you and doesn't let go. That takes you away to a different place. It doesn't even have to be a physical place, just an experience or characters that are unlike anything you've come across before. For me, it was Ben Monopoli's The Painting of Porcupine City. I first read this book over three years ago and when I was done I knew I'd never read anything like it before and it would be a book that would stick with me for a long time to come. Three years later and Fletcher and Mateo still seem as real to me as they did back then.
When I sat down to write this review, I went to Goodreads to see what my review there said. Here a just a few things:
v I started reading Porcupine City (and when you get to the part where Fletcher explains what this means you will never forget it) and from the very first sentence I knew it was going to be different.
v The Painting of Porcupine City is not a romance but oh my heavens is it ever a love story?! There is SO much love in this book, it's almost hard to breathe at times. It's not always obvious either, but what happens is this...you read a line or a paragraph and then a few pages later you get this feeling where you can't decide if you want to laugh or cry and it's because that line, those words, are still playing in your head.
v Fletcher—what to say about him? There were times I wanted to shake him (one time in particular I think I hated him so much I didn't want to keep going, even though I knew I would) and times where he is so beautifully crafted it is like he leaps from the page. He's definitely NOT perfect, but perfect is boring, and Fletcher is definitely not boring.
v Mateo—if there was EVER a character that will stay with me for a long, long, VERY LONG time, it is him. He's not perfect either, but oh how he shines. He'll break your heart, he'll make you smile. He will make you look at everything around you in a new way. I have a feeling that I'll think of him often, think of him in his heaven spot. Mateo is one of those characters that you wish you could invite over to dinner and then pepper him with a thousand and one questions only because there is no telling what his answers will be.
I've got to be honest with you guys, The Painting of Porcupine City is not the easiest book to read. Oh, Ben’s writing is unparalleled—witty, full of gorgeous descriptions, plots that are unique, and characters that you’ll never forget—but his books, this one in particular, WILL challenge you. We all have preconceived ideas of what love and romance are, but after reading this book I promise you with all I am that you’ll think of it differently at the end of Porcupine City. There really isn’t a lot I can or SHOULD tell you about this book because anything I say is spoiling the experience of following Mateo and Fletcher on their journey. You’ll go far, I can say that. From Boston to Sao Paolo, you’ll experience things you’ve never felt before. There’s a touch of magical realism that’s woven throughout the book and though I didn’t really know what to call it when I first read it, I get it now.
Back when I first read this, I wasn’t quite as vocal then as I am now about books I read, but with this one, I shouted from the rooftops. I told every person I knew in my circle, and some I didn’t, that they had to read it. I cajoled and begged and bugged and forced. I’m not kidding. I think EVERYONE should read this book; it’s that excellent.
There’s mystery, hope, joy, crushing heartbreak, and so much love it leaves you breathless in The Painting of Porcupine City. Truly, I guarantee you’ve never, EVER read anything like this book, but if you do, not only will you be changed at the end, you’ll be a fan of Ben Monopoli’s for life. You’ll view those neat and tidy (and I’m not knocking them, don’t worry) HEA’s in a completely different way. They have their place, sure, there is no doubt that this one will stick with you forever. And yes, once you finish reading this book, rush right out immediately and grab The Cranberry Hush and Homo Action Love Story: A Tall Tale. (those are some titles, yeah?) You’ll thank me, trust me.
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