From the outside, Harold is an average seven-year-old third grader growing up in the 1960s. Bored by school. Crushing on a girl. Likes movies and baseball—especially the hometown Boston Red Sox. Enjoys spending time with his grandfather. But inside Harold's mind, things are a lot more complex and unusual. His thoughts come to him as birds flying through a small rectangle in the middle of his brain. He visits an outdoor cafe on the moon and is invited aboard a spaceship by famed astronomer Carl Sagan. He envisions his own funeral procession and wonders if the driver of the hearse has even been born yet.
A strange and wonderful book ... Readers looking for a page-turner may not enjoy Harold, but for those seeking a page-lingerer, there is much to digest. There were times, however, when I found my attention wandering, particularly during a chapters-long dream sequence, when I wished to return to the classroom in the hopes that something would happen ... Harold’s brain certainly goes fast, faster even than the fastest Quicksandpiper. Take a sniff.
Largely an effort to transpose [Wright's] stand-up sensibility to fiction. Plotwise, very little happens ... Often funny, and its refusal to stay in one place means it never feels labored. But: Is it a novel? Though there are characters, there’s little in the way of character development ... That’s setting aside odd turns, factual infelicities and jokes that don’t land. Why is Harold chatting up Carl Sagan in 1965, years before he became a pop-science household name? Why is the story contemplating the schoolteacher’s sex life? Why are we on the moon, again? To which Wright can only respond: Who cares and so what? ... 'In life lots of times there is no logic,' Wright writes. 'Lots and lots of times. Lots of times.' For better and for worse, lots and lots of those times are between the covers of this book.
This first novel from the brilliant mind of legendary deadpan comedian Wright is a funny and poignant story of a day in the life of a precocious 1960s third-grader ... The world as seen through the title character’s eyes is full of awe-inspiring wonder and fascination and is very relatable. The sincerity of Harold’s thoughts is often coupled with a cynical sense of humor that make for a droll and thought-provoking read that never ceases to prove enjoyable.