I Want to Buy a Vowel: A Novel of Illegal Alienationby John Welter
"My doctor says Mylanta..." "Aetna, I'm glad I met ya..." "The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup..." What if you were an illegal alien? What if the only way you had to learn to speak English, and learn about America, was by watching TV? Who else would help? Who would tell you how to buy a vowel and get on Wheel of Fortune? Who else would understand? "Kotex… See more details below
"My doctor says Mylanta..." "Aetna, I'm glad I met ya..." "The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup..." What if you were an illegal alien? What if the only way you had to learn to speak English, and learn about America, was by watching TV? Who else would help? Who would tell you how to buy a vowel and get on Wheel of Fortune? Who else would understand? "Kotex understands..." So does John Welter. His third novel, I Want to Buy a Vowel, asks the question "Where do you sleep when you're still dreaming the American Dream?" It's full of the offbeat irony that reviewers cheered in his first two novels and that has won him a cult following among the ranks of the terminally irreverent. John Welter's I Want to Buy a Vowel is a joyous satire of all-American alienation, small-town confusion, and local media gone amok. It tells the story of how a little man looking for a home and a little girl looking for God find big trouble over the course of a long, hot summer. And it answers, once and for all the burning question: "Have you driven a Ford, lately?..."
The titleinspired by the game show Wheel of Fortuneis the one English phrase that Alfredo Santayana, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, knows. He's hiding in an abandoned house just outside of Waxahachie, Texas, and, as the story begins, the innocent Alfredo is about to become a suspect in an investigation of satanic practices. Little Eva Galt, a minister's kid, spies on him and then befriends him. Meanwhile, another preacher's kid, Kenlow, begins drawing pentagrams around the countryside and leaving whatever fresh meat he can findbeef liver, Vienna sausageas evidence of ritual sacrifice. The sheriff would just as soon laugh the matter off, but then Eva finds a skeleton, suggesting what may be a real case of satanic sacrifice. The local media get hold of it. An evangelical preacher embraces the issue. Someone claims to have seen the Virgin Mary reflected on the surface of a post office stamp machine; the stamp machine is stolen. And, in still another skewed expression of religious fervor, a painter reproduces drawings from the Sistine Chapel on the ceiling of the local food mart. It truly seems as though some kind of wacky conspiracy is at work, but then Eva spots Kenlow at his mischief, clearing up much of the mystery. Alfredo even becomes a hero, and, green card in hand, gets a job scooping up smashed armadillos from the highway. Welter goes for laughs, and often gets themhis kids here, in particular, are charming, as they speculate upon the utility of prayer or troll for catfish at the local sewage lagoon. On the other hand, Welter uses such a broad brush that he's never truly satirical, and his quintessential small town is both too idealized and dumbed-down to be believable.
A Tom Bodett wannabe.
- Penguin Group (USA)
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.28(w) x 7.18(h) x 0.66(d)
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