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The Flamingo Rising
     

The Flamingo Rising

4.5 4
by Larry Baker
 

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In this touching, hilarious novel of the heart and mind, of dreams and memory, of desire and first love, Abe Lee comes of age in the 1960s, living with his unforgettable family at the Flamingo Drive-In Theatre on a scrubby patch of coast between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida. There, some of America's last sweet moments of innocence are unfolding.

For Abe's

Overview

In this touching, hilarious novel of the heart and mind, of dreams and memory, of desire and first love, Abe Lee comes of age in the 1960s, living with his unforgettable family at the Flamingo Drive-In Theatre on a scrubby patch of coast between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida. There, some of America's last sweet moments of innocence are unfolding.

For Abe's father, Hubert, there's nothing better than presenting larger-than-life Hollywood fantasies on his vast silver screen. Nothing, that is, except gleefully sparring with Turner West--a funeral home operator who doesn't much appreciate the noise and merriment from the drive-in next door. Within the lively orbit of this ongoing feud is Abe's mother, Edna Marie, whose calm radiance conceals deep secrets; his sister, Louise, who blossoms almost too quickly into a stunning, willful young woman; and Judge Lester, a clumsy man on the ground who turns graceful when he takes to the sky, towing the Flamingo banner behind his small plane. Then Abe falls for Turner's beautiful daughter Grace. That's when, long before the Fourth of July festivities, the fireworks really begin. . . .

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Excerpts from reviews of Larry Baker's The Flamingo Rising

"A first novel that dares mix the Icarus, Oedipus and Earhart myths, risks a Romeo and Juliet update, plunders Dante, references the Bible, rewrites movie history and inside-outs the American past. Yet Baker's book is far from pretentious. It's one of the more endearingly adept debuts to come along in a while....A novel that is as fully realized as it is inventive,
humorous and heartaching."

--Los Angeles Times

"Like his flamingo, Baker never loses his footing."

--The Star Ledger

"[The Flamingo Rising] is an American original, as big and as full of promise as a drive-in movie screen, formed out of the grist and gristle of late 20th century fiction."

--Atlanta Constitution

"This is much more than a sum of memorable parts; it is a literary tour de force, a study of barriers built and torn down."

--New Orleans Times-Picayune

"This pitch-perfect first novel is reminiscent of the best of John
Irving....Like the giant July 4th fireworks display toward which the story builds, this engaging, moving novel sends up one sparkler after another on its way to a crash-bang, heart-stopping ending."

--Publishers Weekly

"The coming of age story is done to a fine turn in Baker's absolutely delightful first novel, which is also a clever spin on the Romeo and
Juliet theme."

--Booklist

"A truly affecting work, and an inventive one."

--Kirkus Reviews

"[Baker's] own sense of theatre is so grand that only after three hundred pages does everything come joltingly into focus....Larry Baker is writing for grownups but he remembers how it felt not to be one, and renders the experiences in unforced, unshowy prose, neither folksy nor formal. The result is a novel that's both modest and surprisingly seductive."

--The New Yorker

bn.com
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Imagine Romeo and Juliet set in 1960s Florida, only this time the heads of the Montague and Capulet families are, respectively, the owner of America's largest drive-in movie theater and the proprietor of the town funeral parlor. Imagine, too, that Romeo is a Korean adoptee who is deflowered by the drive-in concession-stand girl before his first tryst with his Juliet. These are the basic ingredients of Larry Baker's ambitious and original first novel, The Flamingo Rising, which combines a Flannery O'Connor-esque preoccupation with religious faith with the chatty narrative ease of Eudora Welty. The result is an alternately hilarious and heartbreaking tale that delivers a wholly original take on the classic bildungsroman.

Despite some similarities, The Flamingo Rising departs radically from the typical coming-of-age story. For one thing, Abe, our protagonist and narrator, is Korean; he and his gorgeous sister, Louise, are adopted as infants when their American father, Hubert Lee, is in Korea during the war and decides, impulsively, to bring two babies back to his wife in Florida. For another, Baker chooses to have Abe tell the narrative in flashback. Although we can glean that Abe the adult has not only survived the trials and tragedies of his adolescence, but thrived (thanks to his family inheritance, he is a rich man, happily married to Grace, his Juliet, and the father of three sons), it is also true that the novel ends on Abe's 16th birthday, with the occurrence of an unexpected and devastating tragedy. Abe keeps secret the inadvertent yet fatal mistake he made that has led to this tragedy; it is known only to him and his trusted friend and coworker, Alice Kite. Thus, despite previous declarations of the grown Abe's happiness, we are not at all sure by the end of the novel that we are leaving his 16-year-old self safely on the cusp of adulthood. In between the closing events of the novel and the present moment from which Abe narrates -- reminiscing as a fulfilled husband and father -- lies the mystery of Abe's forgiveness both of himself and of his father (a process that could perhaps make for a fascinating second novel).

Hubert Thomas Lee, Abe's father, is a larger-than-life, eccentric visionary, and also one of Baker's best characters. Hailing from a wealthy tobacco family in Winston-Salem, the charismatic Lee is alternately magnanimous and petty, grandiose and heartbreakingly vulnerable. It is his idea to build the world's largest drive-in theater and call it the Flamingo, his idea to use pioneering means of advertising and marketing that make his theater the most popular in the state. Lee's unexplainable but instant hatred for Turner West, the somber but peaceful proprietor of a neighboring funeral home, causes terrible problems for young Abe, who has fallen hopelessly, irretrievably in love with West's daughter, Grace. Matters are complicated further when it soon becomes obvious to everyone -- everyone, that is, except Hubert Thomas Lee -- that Mr. West has fallen in love with his beloved wife, Edna Scott Lee, although his affections are never, at least physically, returned.

Dancing around the periphery of these events are a cast of characters that are no less vivid despite playing smaller roles. There is Louise, Abe's beautiful sister, whose talents will propel her far away from this small town, and Polly Jackson, the voluptuous concession-stand worker whose thunder is inadvertently stolen by Alice, Abe's oldest friend and coworker. There is Pete Maws, a tiny black man who arrives on the Lees' doorstep as if by providence and becomes an integral part of their life and business, and Judge Harry Lester, a nervous man whose only grace occurs in the air, when he is flying his Piper, trailing the advertising banners that will make the Flamingo the sensation of the state. Finally, there is Frank, Louise's beloved dog, who, like Mr. Lee, is cursed with age-old angers and enmities that cause him to rise up and injure those he loves most.

Tragedy occurs in the novel, yes, but it is tempered by moments of genuine hilarity. Witness the description of the evening of one of the elder Lee's great marketing ploys -- the evening he joins forces with one Saul Mixon, "The P.T. Barnum of the Sexual Revolution," the man who created three separate documentaries about childbirth. "Birth" is the Flamingo's first film of 1968:

"Birth" was an hour and a half, but it was not until the last fifteen minutes that you actually got your money's worth.... A real pregnant woman...was wheeled into the delivery room, and then, on the largest theater screen in the world, the audience was put where the doctor was -- right between her legs looking directly at "Birth".... Water broke and poured towards the Flamingo playground. And then from the cradle of civilization came a head, a round bulge that pushed against a reluctant opening...and then, as if on a coiled spring, the whole body popped out, splotchy and still attached to a cord of life that was trailing back to Mesopotamia.... That should have been enough to see, but Saul Mixon had more. Why shouldn't future obstetricians see the afterbirth? We heard that groan pouring out of the four hundred parked cars.... It was a masculine groan, but the worst was not over for any of the males on the lot that night.... Between a rubber-gloved thumb and forefinger, a tiny wad of baby flesh was stretched, and then what looked like a medieval corkscrew was placed on the tip, and with a decisive twist the baby flesh became circumcised boy flesh.... Even the women were quiet. But for all the men, after an hour and a half of pizza and Cokes and hot dogs and hamburgers and meatball sandwiches and french fries and pickles and chocolate -- it was too much. Dozens of male heads leaned out of windows. Some were able to get to a toilet, sometimes having to lean on their wife's arm....Casualties were all over the field.

Baker ends the novel with an enormous conflagration, what we are perhaps meant to see as a purifying fire, one that will allow the members of the Lee family to start all over from scratch. But is there any such thing? Abe's purported happiness seems a little too easily earned. Fires, we know, may consume, but they also leave ashes. Just before the final conflagration, Abe makes a decision that some would interpret as pure cruelty, that others may interpret as showing that he has finally reached adulthood. With this ambiguous ending, as with the previous 300 pages, Baker shows himself an inspired chronicler of a complex, unforgettable family.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A crazed dachshund-terrier is kept alone in a tower. A funeral-home owner shoots daily at the neon cowboy marquee of the neighboring drive-in theater. A skywriter crash-lands promoting the film Psycho. With people and circumstances just that side of ordinary, this pitch-perfect first novel is reminiscent of the best of John Irving.

In 1953, the Flamingo is featured in Life as the world's largest drive-in theater: a 150-foot-high Florida oceanside tower serves as the theater screen. Fifteen years later, the tower-screen is home to Hubert Lee, Edna Scott and their two adopted Korean childrenand a chronic sun-blocking nuisance to mortician Turner West. The feud between Lee and West is hilarious and tragic, as the ostensible land battle (really a struggle for Edna's heart) obstructs the burgeoning love between Lee's son, Abraham Isaac, and West's daughter, Grace. An Asian among rednecks, narrator Abe/Izzy recounts with much warmth and little animus his coming-of-age in a world gone slightly madcap.

Like the giant July 4th fireworks display toward which the story builds, this engaging, moving novel sends up one sparkler after another on its way to a crash-bang, heart-stopping ending.

Library Journal
If the 100,000-copy first printing is any measure, this debut novel about true love and feuding families in 1950s Florida is something special.
LA Times
Wondrous...Humorous and heart-aching...One of the most endearingly adept debuts to come along in a while.
New Yorker
A winning first novel...Baker is writing for grown-ups, but he remembers how it felt not to be one, and renders the experience in unforced, unshowy prose, neither folksy nor formal. The result is a novel that's both modest and surprisingly seductive.
Kirkus Reviews
Give newcomer Baker points for audacity: He sets out to write a novel that's a highly original coming-of-age tale, a story of warring families, a mediation on the complex nature of familial affection, and a tale of matricide—among other things. And, in at least some of his intentions, he succeeds.

Abraham Issac Lee, the son of a turbulent, wealthy, deeply eccentric southerner, is looking back at his childhood in the relatively benign precincts of 1950s and '60s Florida. His father settles there after the Korean War, and decides to build a drive-in theater featuring the world's largest outdoor screen. He does so, with the help of a believably odd crew of helpers. The drive-in, vast, gaudy, is an immediate success. The downside is that Lee has chosen to build it in proximity to a large, elegant funeral home, and the two patriarchs begin a long, increasingly nasty battle to see who'll dominate the neighborhood. Matters become even more complicated when a teenage Abe falls in love with Grace, the funeral director's only daughter, even as he's being pursued by a rather enigmatic woman who's quietly assumed the management of the drive-in. This would likely be sufficient plot for many writers, but Baker wants more, and he deftly interweaves storylines involving the question of identity and family (Abe and his sister, both adopted, are Korean), the way in which public dramas (here, everything from the Cold War to the death of JFK) impact on private lives, and on love's crippling power. The novel's strengths are its set-pieces: Abe's gentle courtship of Grace, a rowdy, comic Fourth of July celebration, and, on a far grimmer note, the fiery end of the drive-in and Abe's innocence.

The problem is that there's simply too much here—too many contending storylines and moods crowding each other out. This is, at times, a truly affecting work, and an inventive one, but too clamorous in its parts to be a complete success.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345427021
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/28/1998
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
332
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.69(d)

Read an Excerpt

Turner West saw the land first, but my father was rich and bought most of it. Unlike other stories about land, this is not about farming or crops or man taming the wilderness. The land of this story was one square mile of Florida real estate halfway between Jacksonville and St. Augustine. A mile of beachfront and a mile deep into the scrubby interior, cut along the eastern edge by Highway A1A as it went south toward the Keys.

West saw the land in 1950 and knew it was where he wanted to build his funeral home. His father had been a mortician before him, and his brothers had gone into the same business in Georgia. In 1950, West had been driving down A1A and saw the sun rise over the Atlantic. He told his father, but the elder West was skeptical that a funeral home so far from a major city would ever be successful.

"The future," West had said to his father, "you have to think about the future, even in the funeral business."

West borrowed from his father and brothers and was able to buy two acres on the west side of A1A. The land sloped up and there was a clear view of the ocean, so the West Funeral Home opened its doors in 1951 on Easter morning. My father thought that was a nice touch, especially after he found out that Turner West was an atheist.

West may have been an atheist, but he was also an American Puritan. His work ethic was impeccable, and his funeral business prospered. He had no paid employees. His wife and six children worked with him. He personally trained his three oldest sons in mortuary science--a fact my father particularly admired about Turner West. In his own case, until he was ordered by the Duval County courts to obey the law, my father had educated me and my sister at home. I was twelve years old before I saw the inside of a classroom.

As an atheist, Turner West belonged to five churches and a synagogue. On Sunday morning he was up at dawn and attended services first at the downtown Jacksonville Baptist Church, then at the First Church of Christ at 9:30, followed by the Methodists at 11:00, the Episcopalians at 1:00, a late lunch at home, and finally 5:30 Mass at the Cathedral in St. Augustine. He was in temple on Saturday. He absorbed hours of religion every week, but he never volunteered for any committee work at any of the churches and always insisted that his name not appear in any printed material, except for the regular ad in each church's bulletin. His priest, pastor, and rabbi friends appreciated his humility. I know this because Grace West later explained to me why her father went to church.

"Contacts," she had said. "Everyone wants a friend in a time of need. Daddy is there for them because he has always been there. When the moment comes, Daddy says, they are lost. The living, that is, and they want someone who can understand their grief. Daddy has always been part of their congregation. Who else would they choose?"

My father understood perfectly how West's mind operated. My father, the agnostic.

"Abraham, he is a worthy opponent," my father would say. "He understands the power of symbols, even though he does not realize that he is the ultimate symbol himself."

On his two acres, West built his business and his home. The funeral home was styled after a southern plantation house, white columns and Jeffersonian arches. The West family lived in the back: Turner and his wife in a large bedroom over the garage full of hearses and limousines, their six sons sharing three small rooms on the ground floor next to the embalming room.

For my father, Turner West was an adversary. He was Death personified. My father was Life. If you think my father was crazy, you would find many people who agree with you.My father saw the sun rise over the Atlantic a year after Turner West did, and my father also saw the West Funeral Home and Chapel.

"This is the spot for my Great White Wall," he had told my mother, pointing to a large half-moon-shaped indentation that pushed A1A in a long arcing curve away from the ocean. Another visionary might have seen a perfect spot for a tourist hotel fronting a hard beach that could accommodate pale and flabby easterners and their two-ton cars. My father saw a drive-in theatre. It is a story my mother loved to tell. My father looked at the rising sun, turned 180 degrees, and faced the West Funeral Home. With both arms spread wide, he had said, "I will blot your sun out with a Wall of Life. I will put you in the dark."

"I told your father that he was crazy"--my mother would laugh"--but that I loved him anyway."

It was not really a personal vendetta against Turner West. That came later. But on that first day, my father had simply had a vision about what to do with his money, the ample and undeserved money handed down to him as the last of the Lee family from Winston-Salem.

I give you these details to make sure you do not fall into the easy interpretation that others have. Too many people have told me that the war made my father crazy. But that's not true. My father was disjointed even before going to Korea a week after seeing his land in Florida. My mother told me all the stories about his family, the death of his parents in a murder-suicide, how he found them the summer before his senior year in high school.

"He was different after that, the rest of his family told me," she would say. "Not as quiet, not the shy child they had known before then, just not the same. And he went to Korea knowing that he would not die, that he had to come back here to build his dream. He sent me drawings every month, gave me specific instructions for the contractors, and even made me go to California to buy those giant redwoods. He also told me that you and Louise were going to be our children, described you exactly as you were, even before I saw you." She told me all this, and then she would smile that smile my father must have loved the first time he saw her.

Turner West married his high school sweetheart. They were virgins in both body and heart. I have seen their wedding pictures. Imagine a handsome version of Abraham Lincoln, literally, and you have Turner West. Tall, angular, sad eyes, coal-black hair, long arms, but with a movie-star quality. His wife was short and a bit plump. They had kissed at seventeen, pledged their love at eighteen, married at twenty-two, and deflowered themselves on their Atlanta honeymoon. He had told her that he was going to be a mortician like his father and grandfather, and she had still agreed to be his wife.

Her name was Grace, and she was a natural consoler. It was she who had early contact with the next of kin in those brutal first moments on the phone when the living start the dead on their last journey. West could never believe his luck in finding her. She was his wife, lover, mother, friend, and partner. In the first ten years of marriage, they had their six sons. By the time the West Funeral Home was opened, the three oldest were trained to be their father's assistants, and the younger three were destined for the same career. The youngest was old enough to drive one of the limousines in the daily processions that began under Turner West's bedroom.

On the day two barges landed on the beach--two barges each supporting one end of the first of those hundred-foot redwoods that had been shipped from California down the Pacific coast, through the Panama Canal, up past Cuba to float offshore of the land my father had bought--on that day, Turner West's wife died.

They had been foolish, they told themselves. She was too old to have another child. It had not been planned. It could have been terminated. Even in those unenlightened days, there were ways. But then they had looked at each other and knew that things would be all right.

In the waiting room, however, Turner West had been told there was something wrong, and his long legs had outraced the doctor back to the delivery room. His wife was dead, but his daughter was alive.
When the nurse asked what her name was, West had thought she meant his wife. "Grace. Her name is Grace," he had said, and that was the name they put on the birth certificate.

If you had asked Turner West what he remembered about the next three months he could not tell you, because he remembered nothing. Then, sitting in his bedroom one dark morning, he heard a baby cry. Grace was in a crib in the room in which she had been conceived, in the room where she was to sleep in a bed next to her father's bed for the next five years. Turner West had rocked his daughter back to sleep, and then he walked to the front of his funeral home to look out the window. At that particular moment he saw the Flamingo Drive-In Theatre blocking his view of the morning sun.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Excerpts from reviews of Larry Baker's The Flamingo Rising

"A first novel that dares mix the Icarus, Oedipus and Earhart myths, risks a Romeo and Juliet update, plunders Dante, references the Bible, rewrites movie history and inside-outs the American past. Yet Baker's book is far from pretentious. It's one of the more endearingly adept debuts to come along in a while....A novel that is as fully realized as it is inventive,
humorous and heartaching."

Los Angeles Times

"Like his flamingo, Baker never loses his footing."

The Star Ledger

"[The Flamingo Rising] is an American original, as big and as full of promise as a drive-in movie screen, formed out of the grist and gristle of late 20th century fiction."

Atlanta Constitution

"This is much more than a sum of memorable parts; it is a literary tour de force, a study of barriers built and torn down."

New Orleans Times-Picayune

"This pitch-perfect first novel is reminiscent of the best of John Irving....Like the giant July 4th fireworks display toward which the story builds, this engaging, moving novel sends up one sparkler after another on its way to a crash-bang, heart-stopping ending."

Publishers Weekly

"The coming of age story is done to a fine turn in Baker's absolutely delightful first novel, which is also a clever spin on the Romeo and Juliet theme."

Booklist

"A truly affecting work, and an inventive one."

Kirkus Reviews

"[Baker's] own sense of theatre is so grand that only after three hundred pages does everything come joltingly into focus....Larry Baker is writing for grownups but he remembers how it felt not to be one, and renders the experiences in unforced, unshowy prose, neither folksy nor formal. The result is a novel that's both modest and surprisingly seductive."

The New Yorker

Meet the Author

Larry Baker lives with his wife and children in Iowa City, where he teaches literature and history. Currently serving his second term on the City Council of Iowa City, he is seeking reelection this fall. He can be reached at bakerl@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu.

I was raised an Army/Air Force brat. Traveled with my family all over the country and then overseas. I was introduced to my father when I was three or four.  He was sitting up in my mother's bed, sheet pulled up to the bottom of his shirtless chest, a pair of binoculars hanging from around his neck, in a room with the curtains closed. If my writing shows some character's ambivalent feelings toward his father, it is probably me using fiction as therapy.

I was married when I was eighteen. It was the Sixties. If a girl told you that she was pregnant, the expected thing to do was marry her, at least in Texas, when the girl's father was the Chief of Police. I was divorced five years later.  My ex-wife then called me to ask me to take custody of our son so she could marry a Jordanian multi-millionaire who "was all the man you  never were, Larry." I happened to be living with a young woman at the time who informed me that her being a step-mother at age  twenty was not in her contract, so I was soon a bachelor father.

Started working at a drive-in. Made a career of it. During my drive-in career I was robbed four times, shot at once, stabbed once, arrested for collusion to transport pornographic materials across state lines, beat up by a motorcycle gang in Tulsa, found a dead woman in the toilet, was attacked by an irate father who accused me of embarrassing his daughter at a Friday night full house, interrupted countless couples who were having sex in their car or van, established the unofficial obscenity standards for the state of Oklahoma by showing Deep Throat without getting arrested, caused a thirteen car pile-up on an interstate highway by showering the highway with windblown fireworks, and then there were all those episodes that I can't even put in print.

I met my present wife in graduate school. I had just recently sold my last theater, the Hollywood, in Norman, Oklahoma, and was known in the English Department only as "that guy who showed that Marilyn Chambers movie."  Even before it was a cliche, I was politically incorrect. She and I literally first met outside the bathroom at a party given by the other graduate students. It  was 1978, but it might as well have been 1968.  In the front room was a line of people passing around a joint, a line which included several nursing mothers.  Unlike Clinton, everyone was inhaling, even the babes in arms. Waiting outside the bathroom, I looked at her short hair and asked her if she was a lesbian.  She asked me if I was a pornographer. It was love.

A few months later she took me to Nashville to meet her family. I was Southern, but I had never really met Southern Gothic before. My new brother-in-law, Bobby Russell, was the writer of "Honey--Little Green Apples--The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" and other country hits, as well as a man who worshipped Elvis and kept Nazi memorabilia in all his bathrooms, as well as hanging Nazi flags in the barn where he used to watch his prize race horses procreate. Vicky Lawrence was one of his wives.  She created the characters for Carol Burnett's skit called Mama's Family. I heard those lines long before they were on television. Scary.

I moved to Iowa City to finish my PhD in English, after a nasty year in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Those people still insist that the North lost.  Once in Iowa City, I got mad at a local developer who was tearing down old houses to build apartments. I ran for City Council, lost, got appointed to the Zoning Commission and then ran for office again in 1983, winning with 65% of the vote. A four year term, and then, after adopting kids, I moved to Florida, was miserable, fell in love with the ocean (I do not swim), moved back to Iowa City and ran for Council again in 1993 and won with 55% of the vote.

Right now I work part-time at WaldenBooks, teach three classes at a local community college (history and literature), and my being an elected official of the America's most educated community (according to the US Census Bureau), and home of the Writer's Workshop, will be the acid test of whether irony and politics can survive together.

I am working on my second novel tentatively titled The Education of Nancy Flynn, all about sex, teaching, and politics.

From the Hardcover edition.

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4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed The Flamingo Rising from beginning to end and recommend it to anyone who wants to get lost in a beautifully written and compelling book. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a work of fiction and Abe wasn’t a real person sitting in my living room telling me about his teenage years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
In a sense 'The Flamingo Rising' is so good it's bad. Huh? Well, it's over-engineered. Baker is too good at his craft; too many times he foreshadows events multiple times (through his teenage persona's eyes, through his first-person-narrator adult eyes, by means of symbolism, and other devices such as irony, say), when once would have been enough. Nonetheless, the book was a good read. It's about a 1960's nuclear family who operate a massive drive-in theater along Florida's Atlantic coast south of Jacksonville. The cast of characters grows to include a Scatman Crothers-type black handyman (only he's very short); a part terrier/part wiener dog who becomes unforgiveably vicious; and a wisecracking 'Flo' type who intervenes in the author's personal life . . .hm, I'd better leave that part to you readers. Like John Grisham, the author has managed to write this novel without cuss words. He isn't a prude about it; in fact he's rather humorous. Most of the goings-on concern the interplay between the lurid but fun cinema and the staid but necessary funeral chapel next door, especially the Romeo-and-Juliet substory of the narrator and his girl. The prose style hit the right buttons: it was neither too colloquial nor too writer's workshop, if you know what I mean. Next time I hope he'll have a little more faith in his considerable craft, in which case there just might be a blockbuster in the offing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book having never heard of it and I'm so glad I went out on a limb and bought it. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and it makes you feel like these characters are your next door neighbors that you know so well. I recommend this book to teenagers and adults.