Bonnie and Clyde: A Love Story
Infamous American gangster couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow rob their way around the Great Plains during the depths of the Depression. They symbolize either a dangerous threat to social norms and institutions or a romantic, Robin Hood-esque rebellion against those norms and institutions responsible for hard times in the first place.
Several of the images are arresting, and the rotating point of view is an effective device to give the reader insight into the protagonists’ minds as well as those of several secondary and “momentary” characters. The prose itself, however, is awkward and repetitious and suffers from poor copy-editing in places. The aimless drifting of the outlaws is reflected in a story that doesn’t seem to be heading anywhere in particular, except to its inevitable conclusion. Some of the conflict and motivation is ambiguous; for example, Brooks appears to attribute Clyde’s homosexual tendencies to his prison rape, which seems questionable. Bonnie’s character has more depth, but remains the familiar, none-too-bright sex kitten popularized by film, television and other fiction.
This novel is well-researched and evocative of the time and place; but the rotating cast of characters who join, leave and pursue the outlaws becomes a bit confusing. Brooks has taken some small liberties with history in the name of telling a good story (such as the timing of Bonnie’s famous request to her mother, “Don’t let them take me to a funeral parlor”), so it’s not clear why the facts are so scrupulously adhered to in other places. Brooks does not continue the novel beyond the moment of the protagonists’ deaths on the last page; it would have been more fulfilling to have closure on one or two of the detailed subplots he has created. Despite the subtitle, there’s no real love story developed here, just a lot of dust and driving, bologna sandwiches, and bullets.