This creative non-fiction book is the equivalent of a really interesting documentary.
Don’t expect it to be fiction, but it is fascinating in its own right.
For instance, it’s an impressive act of journalism. When I consider all
the many many interviews, notes, and weaving of factual threads that went into
this book, I can’t help but be in awe.
In Home Town you learn about many of the ins and outs of the small town
of Northampton, Massachusetts. The main “character” in this book is
Tommy O’Connor, a police officer in his 30s who grew up in the town. But
both through his eyes and outside of his story the reader learns about many
other inhabitants—a judge, a rich man with obsessive-compulsive disorder,
This isn’t the
easiest book to get into. I found it rewarding, but it’s
rather documentary-like at times, particularly in the opening chapters. It is
definitely self-consciously factual all the way through. The content is interesting,
but you can tell that it was compiled from a ton of research—the author
doesn’t always seem to have complete control over his material.
I am, however, glad I read it. I felt like I gained what I was promised—a
better look at an American small town. And I feel like I’ve gotten to take
a peek into a few real people’s lives (without the obnoxious “reality
TV” setups so often surrounding them nowadays).