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Word Count: 306
In The Ordinary Son Ron Carlson has created one of the blandest characters ever put on paper and therein lies the storys peculiar power Reed Landers is the son of a NASA scientist and a grassroots poet In a family of geniuses he is alone in his commonness Nothing particularly meritorious underlies his conduct his intelligence is average his needs superficial Reeds siblings blossom under a strict moral diet of work and unheralded sacrifice They eat sardines and crackers for dinner refuse to mow their yard and do without a refrigerator Meanwhile Reed meticulously normal rebels by choosing materialism He aspires to average friendships to owning a car to physical labor Though Reed narrates the story he offers little in the way of self-examination Instead he is defined by a succession of small encounters with minor characters-his family a few slight friends his boss They drift in and out of the story pausing in their orbits only long enough to refine Reeds sharp points by radiating their unequivocal realities on his unpolished manhood The Ordinary Son is an anti-story Mr Carlson offers a photo negative of the everyday issues teenage rebellion sex sibling rivalry and coming of age He looks at the spectacular with black-and white eyes that are neither awed nor mystified by what they see He chooses shadow over detail and narrative over explanation Placing Reed a non-entity among super-humans who exist in an ethereal realm of abstractions forces the reader to draw her own realities on a clean grey slate remarkable only for its flawless mediocrity Ron Carlson faced with brilliance presents instead the unlikeliest of heroes an Everyman captured in the twilight of youth unable to escape the genius that surrounds him and painfully aware that he watches with a mind that will never aspire nor know defeat
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