Fail­ure to Thrive

  • Review
By – March 5, 2012

If there is one word that is syn­ony­mous with real­i­ty” TV it is hyper­bole, crammed as the genre is with ridicu­lous you’ve got to be kid­ding me!” moments. Even though it takes more and more to tru­ly appall us nowa­days, it still hap­pens. In a mat­ter of a few pages of Fail­ure to Thrive, Jeff Oliver’s debut nov­el, Jonathan Farb (a Cana­di­an real­i­ty TV pro­duc­er, nat­u­ral­ly) dis­cov­ers he has a pos­si­bly dead­ly brain tumor, catch­es his wife cheat­ing with her mid­dle aged obste­tri­cian, and takes his five-month-old son, Elliot, to a strip club to clear his thoughts of all that has just hap­pened. At this point you might be think­ing, this could nev­er hap­pen.” How­ev­er, I can relate some­what to the pro­tag­o­nist. In a two week span I was fired from my first job out of col­lege, rear-end­ed some­one in a car acci­dent ($1000 deductible that I had to bor­row from my par­ents), and was dumped by my girl­friend for whom I had moved cross-coun­try. Need­less to say, a lot of bad things can hap­pen in a short amount of time. But, when faced with any amount of adver­si­ty it’s all about how you recov­er and move for­ward.

Farb recov­ers by set­ting out on a quest. Try­ing to rapid­ly raise Elliot to man­hood (think infant bar mitz­vah) before his time winds to a close, Farb is the hero of a fre­net­i­cal­ly paced, hyper­bol­ic bil­dungsro­man com­prised of scenes that hard­ly seem pos­si­ble. How­ev­er, the cul­mi­na­tion of all the unbe­liev­able moments is that Farb cre­ates an envi­ron­ment in which Elliot learns many life lessons and tru­ly begins to thrive the way his father envisioned.

Ethan A. Zim­man is a Pro­pos­al Writer for an IT Gov­ern­ment Con­trac­tor by day and free­lance writer by night in Arling­ton, VA.

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