Thirty-three Cecils by Everett De Morier | Book Review

When I received Everett De Morier’s nonfiction book, The Invention of Everything: Insights on Food, Life, and One Good Thermos to review, little did I know what awaited me. That book soon became one of the most enjoyable nonfiction books I’ve ever read. And that’s saying something because I usually avoid reading nonfiction books. Not a great fan of them. But thanks to a few, this one included, I’m slowly getting to a place where I can sit down and enjoy a well-written nonfiction as much as I enjoy a fiction book.

So when I was approached to review Everett De Morier’s fiction book, I jumped at the chance. Because if an author could make nonfiction such fun to read, imagine what he could do with a fictional story! And it was with much excitement that I started reading Thirty-three Cecils.

There are two tidbits that you need to know about this book, Thirty-three Cecils. One, that it is an award-winning book in America. And two, it will soon be adapted into a major motion picture! This latter point is what excites me to no end. Why? You’ll find out at the end of this review.

About ‘Thirty-three Cecils’:

Book cover for Thirty-Three Cecils by Everett de Morier

Thirty-three Cecils is the story of two men, Walker Roe and Riley Dutcher. Walker is a former filmmaker and cartoonist from Erie, Pennsylvania who has just served a sentence for fraud and counterfeiting. He is now divorced and while his two daughters live with their mother, they visit their father three days a week at the Dennings Arms Apartments where he now lives. These apartments are nicknamed ‘Divorce Court’ because of the number of divorcees who happen to end up living here, if at least for a short while.

Walker befriends Lester Bugby, the guy who owns these apartments. Everything goes smoothly, apart from all the times when the people of Erie who have been directly or indirectly affected by Walker’s crime view him with contempt. This is until Bugby is killed in a canoeing accident up north, thanks to his tendency to disappear every once in a while. But now, obviously, thanks or no thanks to “incriminating evidence”, people get ideas about Walker’s involvement in Bugby’s death.

Riley Dutcher or ‘Dutch’ as he is called, describes himself as a drunkard who is sure of his own habits drunk or sober. He is now on the path to giving up alcohol. But when, one fine evening, he finds an expensive bike sitting in the middle of his house with no recollection of its appearance whatsoever, he begins to question himself.  He breaks his head trying to find out what’s going on and where this bike is from.

Eventually, Dutch becomes a traveling man – mean a man with no roots in particular – and ends up in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he works on menial tasks for Walker. When things happen, Dutch’s life becomes inextricably entangled with that of Walker’s.

Not to forget that these stories are told through Walker and Dutch’s diaries/journals that the police discover while investigating their murders. Hah! Bet you didn’t see that coming! 😛 (That’s not a spoiler, by the way. I promise. 🙂 )

What I Didn’t Like About This Book:

Unlike The Invention of Everything in which I loved what Everett De Morier had to say, there were a couple of points in this one that I didn’t quite like.

  1. The narrative becomes too repetitive in places. A detail that was mentioned 2 pages ago will appear yet again and over again. That’s a little unnerving. But there’s a redeeming quality to this.
  2. The story drags in some places, which is completely unnecessary.
  3. The title of this book appears but for just one chapter and doesn’t at all explain why it has been given the importance of being the title.

What I Liked About This Book:

There are quite a few points that I quite liked about it, overshadowing its obvious negatives.

  1. The author succeeds in mixing fiction and nonfiction to the point where you actually look to the Internet to validate whether or not what the author is saying is true.
  2. The book is captivating, despite its shortcomings.
  3. The author uses material from his nonfiction book – a good sense of déjà vu overwhelming me, someone who read both the books with not much of a gap in between.
  4. The nonfiction in the book explains the fictional events perfectly, while having a clear line between fiction and nonfiction.
  5. The plot points aren’t present just to make everything convenient. Every point and every event seems natural and fits in with the storyline.
  6. The writing is honest and relatable.
  7. Thirty-three Cecils is a fun read, making you snort and cackle as you go through it. For example: Dutch works in a landfill. He calls it Mount Trashmore. Hah!
  8. The characters are very well sketched out even though it does become a kind of a mystery thriller in times when we don’t know what the character is going to do next. You do have a premonition, but you can’t say for sure.
  9. Thirty-three Cecils shows that a human being could do wrong due to circumstances, but when he shows an inherent goodness after punishment, people tend to find it surprising. And when he tries to find a way to better his life, they descend on him, judging him based on his past rather than his present. And that’s not fair.
  10. Remember when I said there’s a redeeming quality about the first point I didn’t like out this book? Since this book is written as two journals for most part, it should be quite easy to understand and be okay with the repetitiveness. Let me tell you why: When you write in your diary or journal and forget if you’ve mentioned a point before, you tend to write it down again, just in case. Because it’s just a line. So why not, right? That’s exactly the case with this book. 🙂

With so many plus points to boot, who won’t be excited for a movie to bring the stories of these two men to life on screen? I know I am!

On the whole, I quite liked and enjoyed reading Thirty-three Cecils despite it being a tad repetitive and dragged in places. And because its positives way overshadow its negatives, I’d say this is one book you could definitely give a try. 🙂

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life. 🙂

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