Monday, June 3, 2013

Week One Discussion of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks


Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
Week One

Welcome to week one of our June featured read Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. I hope you enjoy this novel as much as I did the first time I read it.

So let’s get the month off to a great start with week one’s questions.
Remember as always just use these questions as reference points and I encourage taking it deeper or even in another direction.

In our first section we’ve met the main characters who impact the novel and have a pretty distinct feeling of the direction.

First thoughts

feelings about
any favorites

Matthew’s narrative style- do you feel it’s effective as a means to tell his story

Check back during the week to see what others have said and also for additional posts about week one.

Let’s get started

In case you missed it here are both my interviews with Matthew
From August of 2012 Which includes my review is HERE
From May 25th 2013 is HERE

Don't forget to check out Matthew's website which has a link to his very entertaining blog.

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  1. I think the telling of this story from the view point of Budo is pure gen;us. It allows us, as adults to "get into the psyche and mind" of the small child in a different way and see things from a totally different perspective than we had ever thought of previously.
    When Budo started introducing us to the other imaginary friends and describing their appearances and limitations I was floored. The psychological implications of those limitations and appearances gave such insight on each of the children.
    BTW, Matthew, you cost me a night's sleep. I couldn't put the book down when I read it (back when it was first released). Budo haunted my dreams for nights afterwards.
    Reading the book, Matthew gave the grown-ups the same sense of the grown-ups in Charlie Brown...."bwa bwa bwa bwa"... not a clear understanding of what they were saying, even though he might repeat what they said and we, as the read understood the adult conversation that he repeated. That was a great tool.
    I loved the sense that Budo was an almost complete entity unto himself, as well as a part of Max. I also love that Budo served as Max's memory bank. What Max couldn't remember, he could count on Budo to remember for him.
    Reading the first part of this story, I could see me daughter sitting there talking to her doll or pet rabbit in a rapt conversation, discussing the great events and issues of her life at the vast age of 3 or 4. Thumper (the big miniature lop would sit there with his liquid chocolate eyes and absorb every word she had to say, then cock his head or nod it appropriately... you would swear he understood and she definitely understood whatever he was saying back to her.
    I know I will have to so careful of mis-statements, as I have read the book.... but I am so looking forward to the discussion.
    Thank you for writing this wonderful book, Matthew and for taking the time to be here with us this month.
    aka Mtn Muse

    1. Karen, thank you for your inspiring thoughts on this remarkable novel.
      I loved Budo and also was kept awake not being able to put the book down.
      I really liked how in his childlike way he embraced himself to this very adult reader.

    2. Yes. Itade me wish I had had a Budo growing up. I sure co uld have used one. Lol

    3. So glad that you liked the book, Karen. Your comments have certainly made for a perfect ending to my day. Apologies for the loss of sleep! It was the easiest and most fun book for me to write thus far, because Budo did most of the heavy lifting. Once he was in my head, he really took control of the story. In many ways, I simply served as his scribe.


  2. Karen, couldn't we all have used a Budo?? I agree, I would have liked a companion, but I could never find mine. I think it takes a certain amount of belief, or maybe a suspension of logic, to find your imaginary companion, and I can't remember a time when I believed in any of those kid things - Santa, the Easter bunny....

    I really love this book, and I think it is such a clever point of view to use the imaginary companion. Never having read it, but dying to read ahead, I was drawn in from the first. There is a single adult that I would count among my favorite characters, but I'd have to list all of the companions as my faves. They seem to have a kind of wisdom that the humans don't exhibit, and I think it may be because they're both child-like and a little adult-like. Because they're a little removed from the human world, it allows them to have a bigger perspective than any of the humans, and I think that gives them more balance. And I think it's interesting that they help their human friends with homework and tests. I do think it's interesting that Max imagined his friend as a non-autistic child - how did he know what that would be like??

    I don't think that either of my daughters had an imaginary friend, but my younger one used to lock herself into the utility room with one of our cats to have 'book club' with her. Is Tabby any wiser for the experience? Who knows, but she never seemed to resent it...

    1. Elaine, thanks for the comments. I don't remember having an imaginary friend growing up either. You hit the nail on the head when you described the friends as to how I would describe them too.
      glad you're enjoying the novel

    2. Hi Elaine,
      Happy to see that you enjoyed the book.

      In terms of Max being able to imagine Budo as non-autistic, I like to think that as a person surrounded by non-autistic people, Max could imagine such a person without being able to be one (or wanting to be one). The manuscript I just completed has a female protagonist. My first. While I am not a woman, I've worked in an elementary school, primarily with female colleagues, for the past fifteen years. My hope is that my female protagonist seems real even though a man imagined her.

      Max, I think, is in a similar position.

      Hope this helps to make sense.

      Thanks for being here and reading the book!

  3. Like the rest of you, I cannot remember having an imaginary friend. This book has made me wonder: if I did remember an imaginary friend—could still imagine her/him—would that mean she/he still exists somewhere in limbo? I am also wondering if I had an imaginary friend during stressful times in my childhood, a friend who existed only during those brief periods when she/he was really needed and vanished from my memory when her/his job was finished. I actually kind of hope that is true. OK. Enough of that. I am amazed at how much I am enjoying this book. I began it with a bias toward this “imaginary” narrator, but I like the honesty of the voice. Budo seems to be an intelligent kid talking to adults. I am surprised that Budo can “live” outside Max’s world, can go to the gas station and the hospital while Max is asleep. That was a bit strange at first, to imagine that, and I thought that perhaps the book would take some mystical, fantastical turn; but Budo simply became a character of his own. He never discusses things he learns on his own with Max. When he is with Max, he seems to live in Max’s world only. I don’t know much about Mrs. Goshk, but I like her already!

    1. Hi Edie, that's a great statement you made that you "like the honesty of the voice" speaking about Budo.
      Glad you're enjoying it even though you didn't think you would
      I love it when my evil plan comes together to make sure my friends go outside their comfort box. :)

    2. Edie,

      I don't want to give anything away, but I'll tell you that Mrs. Gosk is a real person. I've been teaching with her for 15 years and she's exactly as she appears in the book. We did an interview together for the audiobook, so if you ever have a chance to listen, you can hear her talk about what it was like to have a nonfictional version of herself appear in a piece of fiction.

      Hope you enjoy the rest of the book!

  4. When I first picked up the book, I remember wondering how well we would get to know Max and everyone around him since the story was told by Budo. As I started reading though, I fell in love with Budo's voice immediately. He opened my eyes to a whole new world where imaginary friends exist and not only interact and help out their human friends, but the imaginary friends are also able to interact with each other. Through Budo, I think we really get a sense of what it is like for Max living with autism. I don't think we'd be able to get to know Max as well if the story were told in Max's own words.

    Max's mom and dad really stand out for me at this point. I can feel their struggle to make the right choices and try to do what is right by their son. Max's mom is a strong woman who just wants to find any way she can to help her son, while Max's dad seems to deny that anything could be wrong. I think in their own way that they are good parents, but they don't seem to be on the same page when it comes to Max, which leads to arguing between them.

    I never had an imaginary friend, but after getting to know Budo, I wish I had. I feel now like I might have missed out on something special. About ten years ago, my younger sister admitted to having an imaginary friend when she was in grade school that no one in my family knew about. Her imaginary friend lived in her desk at school and only existed for a short time because one day she fell through a hole in my sister's desk never to be seen again. The only reason my sister let us in on her secret imaginary friend was because while we were antique shopping, she came across a doll that she swore was the spitting image of her imaginary friend. Big, brown oval shaped nose and all. Of course we had to bring this doll home with us and ever since, every time I see it, I wonder if it could possibly be the imaginary friend she dreamt up all those years ago.


    1. Hi April,
      Last weekend I did an interview over Skype as part of an Italian literary festival (the book is a bestseller in Italy!) and a psychologist on the panel expressed her interest in the parents as well. She liked the portrayal a lot and drew more things from the text than I intended.

      I took credit anyway. :)

      As you probably know from my interview, I had an imaginary friend when I was a kid and love hearing stories about other imaginary friends. I just finished a new book and am starting another, and it looks like it may be a sequel of sorts to this book. You never know... you may see an imaginary friend in that book with a big, brown oval nose!

  5. Ah Matthew, the joy of growing up in a world of Imaginaries. I do believe there have to be two different kinds though. The Imaginaries of the very creative child who lives in a creative world of make believe and imagines who new worlds and explores whole new galaxies... If you are always the new kid on the block or live in an isolated situation where there are no other playmates, Imaginaries are your only alternatives to play with. And they can be great fun... you discover them in books and stories and other wonderful places. But in a healthy environment you are able to keep the imaginary world totally separate and apart from the real world and know the difference. Although those friends do come in handy, while playing, to work out problems in the real world.
    It is when one of the Imaginary friends passes over to live with you in your world that they become an imaginary friend... I don't ever remember quite getting to that point. I always felt more comfortable just retreating into their world of books and dolls.
    Ah, but what I wouldn't have given for a Budo, though. Fortunately, I did have a grandma who I talked to (in my head)...when she wasn't around to talk to :-).

  6. I know there aren't any "likes" or "kudos" in this format, but LIKE LIKE LIKE, KUDO KUDO KUDO to all these fabulous posts.... loving it!!!!

    1. know Karen We'll have to think of something to give a Kudo to
      and Of course I agree