Suppose we took all the ingredients of the traditional young adult novel — divorce, bullies, frustrated romance, angst, personal introspection — and handed them to a little-known writer. Suppose the writer was a stay-at-home dad in a small town in rural Ontario whose previous effort at fiction was a poignant work about a homeless man in Toronto, written in a stream-of-consciousness narrative style.
So how did The Nose from Jupiter turn out to be so good? The novel is filled with enough nose, snot, and sneezing jokes to make an adult groan, though these will certainly appeal to its preteen readers.
And yet, somehow, the concoction works. The Nose from Jupiter is much, much better than the sum of its parts.
Maybe the reason is talent. Salinger cringe, but for Scrimger the technique certainly is effective. His adult novel of two years ago, Crosstown, was impressive enough to be nominated for the City of Toronto Book Award.
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Italicized Advice The Nose from Jupiter answers both questions: yes he can. Scrimger takes on the voice of year-old Alan Dingwall, bothered by a gang of bullies called the Cougars, attracted to a girl named Miranda, but really disturbed by a tiny alien from Jupiter who has taken up residence in his nose.
Since the movie Harvey, the comic potential of a mostly invisible character has been realized in movies, on television, and in books.
Much of the humour is offered up by Norbert, the tiny alien who prepared for his earth mission by listening to k. Did you know that I was in a coma?
I was in the garage. How did I get knocked out?
Obviously Norbert is an imaginary friend with capital-A attitude, exactly the kind of attitude that Alan needs to deal with the bullies in his life, make the appropriate moves on Miranda, and even make a little headway with his distracted parents. Some of these resulting happy outcomes seem a bit pat, especially the miraculous conversion of one of the Cougars thanks to a little intervention by Norbert, but all come through with real charm.
The Nose from Jupiter is the kind of book that will leave its readers of any age smiling all the way through. Lowinger called the author up and asked if he might want to write a longer book for young adults.
The Nose from Jupiter is filled with sweet touches of humour, wonderful bits of irony, small shadings with just-the-right adjective to give a phrase that perfect touch.
Follow the Author
Scrimger has a natural talent — there are such people, after all — and it will be fascinating to watch how it develops over time. Apparently his next book will be closer to home: a young-adult novel about a family with four kids taking a long car trip.
When he gets there, that book might just be outstanding. Subscribe: Digital Edition.
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The Nose from Jupiter by Richard Scrimger (1998, Paperback)
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