True Cross by T.R. Pearson

“I offered him a breath mint- the only foodstuff I had on me- and he eyed me the way a man who offers a dog a mint deserves which I elected to take for a sign of uncommon intelligence on his part, and I decided on the spot he was just the sort of creature whose company I could probably abide (pg. 21).”

I like that.

I liked a lot of sentences in the book True Cross by T.R. Pearson. In fact, at times I was actually taken aback by this man’s construction of sentences, for one main reason:

his vocabulary.

Often times, when I am reading a book, I will notice if an author uses a certain word more than once. It’s a strange habit, and not a fact that my brain keeps in the forefront much longer than halfway into the next book I am reading. What was notable about Pearson is that I noticed the opposite or how many different words he used for a seemingly common thing. What sort of a man uses the word fescue to reference a grassy pasture? A man with a fabulous vocabulary, that’s who.

The book’s story centers around an accountant named Paul Tatum, who leaves a a steady job and moves to (what I could make of it) a country town that is some years behind the rest of the world. Cynical, anti-social, and of having a bitter taste for humanity in his mouth, Paul meanders through this book, one clever observation and witticism at a time. Pearson is able to build this town and it’s citizens in a beautifully satirical way through Paul Tatum’s eyes. His insults (although not precisely insults in the book, more like considerate scrutiny by a lonely man) were sometimes so wonderfully constructed and thought out, I would say out loud “I’m going to use that one day if I ever meet a woman with that kind of a hair cut.” (I actually have since then, and even referenced Pearson’s whole paragraph in regards to it, right down to the “more becoming with antlers…” line. In my own head, of course.)

Because of his great knowledge of words (or quick access to an exceptional thesaurus), the descriptions were uncanny. So good were these descriptions, that at times, I would dare say they were too good; I would have to read a sentence more than once to regurgitate what I was supposed to be seeing before I could picture it. Or maybe I just need to start brushing up my own vocabulary…

Another reason I enjoyed this book, was Paul Tatum, the main character himself. Simply put, I understood him. His satirical view on most everything resonated with me, because he thought things that I may have thought myself, had I been in his situation. He made sense to me. (I’m sure some would read this book, and think, my god, what an unlikeable creature! Just as I am sure some people would think of me if they were allowed a weekend getaway in my head.) He reminded me of a character in one of my all-time favorite books A Fraction of the Whole, by Steve Toltz, another reason, I’m sure, that I felt so cozy with Paul Tatum. We would have probably got on well had we met. (Well, if he were real of course, and not so anti-social.)

Although, the story was not much to talk about (I even put the book down and didn’t return for a few months, something very uncharacteristic of me), and I saw the ending coming, I will be sure to read more by T.R. Pearson in the future, if only to learn some new words.


… or basically to implant some new delicious insults for the next time I see a woman with truly offensive haircut.

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