Ugly To Start With- John Michael Cummings

This weekend, as I anticipate the arrival of my new kitty,(we get him tomorrow!) I distracted my excitement with John Michael Cummings Ugly to Start With. This book was a really suburb literary piece of work. There is no doubts that Cummings is a talent author with some incredible ideas. However, the short stories featured in this book really didn't connect with me. You get the point of them, how young Jason, an aspiring artist, figures out his fit in the interesting world he lives in, but they seemed lacking in any kind of structure. You would almost get to a climactic point in the story, and then you'd be cut off. This was probably intented, but didn't fulfill me at all. Although we see snippets of Jason's family, I don't really feel like I know or understand them at all, or him for that matter. It was just a bunch of random weird things that happened in his life, that didn't really come from anywhere, go anywhere, or make much sense.  It was only 168 pages long, so I was able to enjoy it as a literary piece enough to not be so disappointed by it, but I feel like I definitely missed something.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Jason Stevens is growing up in picturesque, historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the 1970s. Back when the roads are smaller, the cars slower, the people more colorful, and Washington, D.C. is way across the mountains—a winding sixty-five miles away.

Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of the family car. He stands up to an abusive husband—and then feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father’s hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather’s showy younger wife, and the fist-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry—all topped off by a basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town.

Ugly to Start With punctuates the exuberant highs, bewildering midpoints, and painful lows of growing up, and affirms that adolescent dreams and desires are often fulfilled in surprising ways.

Paperback, 168 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by West Virginia University Press

My Rating: 3/5


  • Lan | June 4, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    This ones got an amazing title but I struggle with books that seem incomplete. Still would like to try it as it's gotten lots of good hype.