Matt Greene's debut, Ostrich
, opens with twelve-year-old Alex Graham just about to undergo brain surgery for a tumor that has been causing intense, disruptive seizures. After his surgery, he begins to notice strange things. His mother is hiding out in her new dark room. His father, a driving instructor, is spending more time with his Driver's Ed students. Alex wonders, with a helpful nudge of his friend Chloe, if his father is having an affair and his parents are getting a divorce. And if that's not upsetting enough, Jaws 2, his hamster, is thinner than before Alex's surgery and has less energy. What's up with that
In some ways, Alex is just a regular kid on the cusp of being a teen. He discovers Internet pornography. He experiences his first kiss. His father lets him get behind the wheel of his Driver's Ed car. But Alex is also precocious and quirky - he is...
Beyond the Book
In Matt Greene's Ostrich
, protagonist Alex Graham is obsessed with mnemonic devices. How did mnemonics get their start?
Simonides of Ceos was a Greek poet in the sixth century B.C. As the story goes, he was asked to recite an ode at a nobleman's banquet. Simonides began his speech, as was customary, by thanking the gods – in this case Pollux and Castor, twins who were later transformed into the constellation Gemini. But the nobleman did not appreciate sharing the limelight with the gods. Simonides would get half of his fee, the nobleman said, and if he wanted the rest he could ask the gods themselves to pay him. Shortly afterwards, Simonides was called out of the room. Two men were supposedly at the door to see him. He went to the door but no one was there. While...