Verdict: An ambitious, enjoyable read with a superb ending that changed my interpretation of the entire text.
Simon Burchwood is a hard-bitten, wannabe novelist teetering on the brink of literary stardom. Yet a brief sojourn in Montgomery, Alabama challenges his haughty façade–and the “meteoric rise” that has continually eluded him.
Sure, Burchwood is egocentric–despicable, even. Admittedly, his lengthy monologues often irritate more than intrigue, crippling the novel’s weightier themes. Yet his ill-fated journey, while occasionally long-winded, is strangely captivating.
Semegran’s tragic cast of characters struggle to confront disappointing realities: the impossibly optimistic Jason fights to salvage what’s left of his disintegrating marriage, while Patty Green–Burchwood’s childhood flame– scrambles to make ends meet as a stripper at “Cinnamon’s Big Boobie Bonanza.” Even Burchwood himself–trekking from Montgomery, Alabama to New York, New York–ultimately discards his delusions of grandeur to find his dreams in shambles.
“The Meteoric Rise of Simon Burchwood” weaves a heartrending portrait of lowered expectation: of a man eschewing, and ultimately embracing, mediocrity. Semegran deftly unmasks the divide between adolescent expectations and adult realities, and does so using Burchwood’s crass, profanity-laden commentary–though at times readers will crave a little less Simon, and a little more everyone else.
Johns Hopkins undergraduate majoring in International Studies and Writing Seminars. Aspiring journalist.