Really loved the book and have bought copies for two friends who I thought would really enjoy it.
The loneliness throughout the book is pretty incredible and left me for wide swaths of the text feeling like I was in the middle of a bad dream. That aching feeling of having had something and knowing that you're never, ever going to be able to get it back. This reminded me of a book I read as a child called "Walter the Lazy Mouse" about a mouse who really doesn't do anything and is so slow about getting anything done that he gets home one day to find his family has moved out and simply forgotten him since he never really did anything around the house. The book is all about him trying to find his way "home." Probably because I read this as such a little kid, it always spooked me that my family would do this to me and reading "The Book of Lost Things" I felt that the main character was in the same position.
It was like he was being punished for being such a selfish little brat that he was chucked into this world. While there he learns how to help others, let others help him, and really, how much he misses his family.
At first I wasn't a huge fan of the hyper-accelerated ending of the book and especially the feeling of "it was all just a dream" but now that it's been a few weeks, I kind of like it. I suppose with things like this either it's all supernatural or it's all in someone's head. I was perfect willing and ready to accept all of what happened in the book as literal and allow that world to exist. In the end, having it play out in a similar way to "The Wizard of Oz" (you were there, and you, and you...) was a bit of let down. Yes, there was some wiggle room there with was it or wasn't it all a dream but still, I would have been happier one way or the other.
The retellings of the fairy tales were great, especially the Little Red Riding Slut stuff. That was pure genius.
Sorry I couldn't jump in with the comments earlier but have been running around a bit.
Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not sure I would have read this if I hadn't been prodded but I'm really glad I did.
p.s. How about "Gun with Occasional Music" by Jonathan Lethem for next month