What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

Peter Hedges, Author
Peter Hedges, Author Poseidon Press $19.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-73509-8
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Mass Market Paperbound - 335 pages - 978-0-671-87080-5
Paperback - 319 pages - 978-0-671-03854-0
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DVD-Video - 978-0-7921-7794-4
Prebound-Other - 319 pages - 978-0-613-22613-4
DVD-Video
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4391-2751-3
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Wonderfully entertaining and amusing, this distinctive first novel goes down like a chocolate milkshake but boasts the sharpness and finesse of a complex wine, for Hedges's ostensibly country-bumpkin-style tale sparkles with sophisticated literary devices and psychological insight. Twenty-four-year-old Gilbert Grape sacks groceries in small, monotonous Endora, Iowa, pop. 1091 (``Describing this place is like dancing to no music''). Fear of leaving Endora, loyalty to his disintegrating family--particularly to obese, TV-addict Momma and goofy younger brother Arnie,``the retard''--and disgust over the technological wave of the future which is destroying the town's values have turned Arnie into ``a walking coma practically.'' As Momma's overeating becomes suicidal and Arnie nears age 18, Gilbert is jostled out of his paralysis and into honest self-examination. The colloquial narrative voice, dialogue, colorful cast of characters and even the theatrically staged scenes are conveyed with appealing credibility. Like John Updike, Hedges invests an antihero's ordinary provincial American life with thematic meaning, fashioning the details of everyday existence into clever literary symbols. He leaves readers demanding a sequel. BOMC alternate. (Sept.)
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