3.5 Star Rating
When I read the synopsis for Oxford Messed Up was interest was spiked. The idea is so original. I have never read a book about OCD or one were music by one musician was the main theme. I wounder how Kaufman was going to pull this off. A love story that involves OCD, feminist poetry, and Van Morrison? That seem like a tall order.
Kaufman was able to pull most of it off. The feminist poetry portion of the story was not too out there. There was no preaching about feminism and women's right. Instead, Kaufman used the feminist poetry element as a tool to bring the characters together and contrast the different portions of Gloria's personality.
The Van Morrison portion was a little overwhelm for me. I am not that familiar with Van Morrison's music and was lost when certain songs were referenced. Van Morrison was everywhere. After a moment I got tired of reading about Van Morrison. In place were feelings and emotions would have been appropriated there were Van Morrison song titles or quotes. Sometime the story seemed to be more about the greatness of Morrison than the relationship between Gloria and Henry.
The OCD angle was both good and not so good. Gloria's OCD was real and it was interesting to see how it affected her life choices and interactions with others. At one point of the story behavior therapy is used to help Gloria overcome her obsessions. I thought that the treatment work a little too quickly for someone who has been suffering from OCD for most of their life.
I did enjoy both Gloria and Henry's character. They were will developed and complex. They were both messed up and the glimpses that Kaufman gave into their past allowed the reader to see why. I think Henry's experiences were more traumatic and his character was a more developed than Gloria's. There was the opportunity for the difference between Gloria's feminist poetry background and her actual personality.
I rooted for them as a couple. They were just messed up enough to expect each other as they were and to work through their flaws together. Henry's humor balanced out Gloria's seriousness. Gloria ambition balanced Henry's laziness. Their love for Van Morrison helped, also.
Kaufman did commit what I think is a sin: The Epilogue. I would have been happy with the story where the last chapter had left off but the epilogue messed up the ending for me. I for one am comfortable wondering what happens in characters lives after the main part of the story ends. I don't need complete closure.