Inflating a Dog: The Story of Ella's Lunch Launch

Overview

“Is there a more beguiling writer today than Eric Kraft?” —Publishers Weekly

Ella Leroy dreams of escaping the dreary routine of her 1950s wife-and-mom life. Without telling her husband, she enlists her son Peter and his locally-notorious girlfriend Patti in a scheme: to buy a run-down clamboatand re-invent it as an elegant cruising vessel for summer people in the beach town of Babbington, Long Island.But after the Arcinella is purchased, Peter discovers thatit is slowly ...

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Overview

“Is there a more beguiling writer today than Eric Kraft?” —Publishers Weekly

Ella Leroy dreams of escaping the dreary routine of her 1950s wife-and-mom life. Without telling her husband, she enlists her son Peter and his locally-notorious girlfriend Patti in a scheme: to buy a run-down clamboatand re-invent it as an elegant cruising vessel for summer people in the beach town of Babbington, Long Island.But after the Arcinella is purchased, Peter discovers thatit is slowly sinking. Each night he sneaks from his home to the harborfront of Bolotomy Bay, where he pumps the boat dry, inflating his mother’s hopes a bit longer.

Inflating a Dog offers proof of the genius of an author whose work Newsweek has called “the literary equivalent of Fred Astaire dancing: great art that looks like fun.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kraft's eighth installment (after Leaving Small!s Hotel) in the winsome series featuring the charming Peter Leroy is a cheeky, amusing look at the nature of the entrepreneurial dream. Narrated by the now adult Peter, the story takes place during his adolescence, as his mother, Ella, gets yet another idea in an endless string of outlandish business schemes. This time her fantasy is to establish a cruise line for the bay near their hometown of Babbington, Del. Despite her husband's smirking disapproval, she buys a clam boat and, with the help of Peter and his sexy girlfriend, Patti, begins to fix it up. The cruise line makes a splash in the community when Peter hits a channel marker during their elegant maiden voyage, dumping the mayor's wife in the bay. Their venture struggles after their first outing, until they get the idea to go downscale and paint the boat in garish tropical colors, a move that makes them a wild local hit. The rags-to-riches plot is a bit on the generic side, but Kraft turns the concept up a notch in the preface, in which Peter Leroy reveals that the happy ending is one he created to compensate for his mother's endless real life failures, a gambit that allows room for plenty of tongue-in-cheek games with the reality-versus-fantasy theme. The book has some slow moments during the rather ordinary coming-of-age narrative in the early going, but once Kraft begins to work his clever conceit, this novel emerges as another memorable installment in his innovative series. East Coast author tour. (July) Forecast: This title is comparable in style and quality to previous Leroy novels. Expect similar sales figures as well. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Kraft's multivolume Chronicles of Peter Leroy (Leaving Small's Hotel, 1998, etc.) continue with this often hilarious bittersweet tale of adolescence recollected in tranquility: middle-aged Peter's fictional improvement on the subject of his mother Ella's checkered career as an independent businesswoman. In a kaleidoscopic narrative that's a little like a marriage of Marcel Proust and Mark Twain, Peter (a former teacher and author of a series of boys' adventure books) treats his long-suffering wife Albertine (who's his best critic) to a fantasized version of growing up absurd in the clam-rich municipality of Babbington, Long Island. Specifically, he imagines that the determined Ella found her commercial niche catering "elegant excursions" aboard her newly purchased clam boat (whose previous owner had neglected to mention that the vessel leaked). The story also fulfills 13-year-old Peter's fantasy needs in the person of schoolmate sexpot (and the Leroys' collaborator) Patti Fiorenza. That's about it-and it's enough, in a charmingly loopy come-in-and-sit-a-spell tale that segues comfortably among past and present, truth and lies, the main point and ingenuous digressions, including explications of technical matters that stimulate Peter's urge to tinker with everything he touches (not excluding Ms. Fiorenza). One particularly impassioned chapter is presented as a playlet. Interpolated explanatory ones employ illustrations and diagrams to dwell on such nautical arcane as "The Mysteries of the Jet Pump Revealed" and "Morphology and Aesthetics of Clam Boats." The title metaphor, explained in an epigraph from Don Quixote, assumes several risible forms, and Peter's determination to explore all themysteries of environment, heredity, and (especially) sex is memorably expressed in such deadpan wonders as the episode entitled "martinis with the Merry Widow" and "a doo-wop version of Stanza XI of Wallace Stevens's ‘Esthetique du Mal.' " And Kraft wraps it up with a fabulous final chapter in which Peter says his final farewell to the redoubtable Ella. Glorious stuff. Is there no end to the (obviously autobiographical, irresistibly entertaining) permutations of Peter Leroy? Let's hope not.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312288044
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 7/5/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 4.46 (w) x 10.82 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Kraft lives in New York with his wife, Madeline.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2003

    A different kind of book

    This is a book about how things should have been. The story is about a boy and one of his mother's business ideas, which are all interesting but don't work well. There's more too the book than just 'The Story of Ella's Lunch Launch;' the author includes how he started writing the story and how he found some of his inspiration. 'Inflating a Dog' was well written and enjoyable, but I could put the book down, and I could wait to see what happened on the next page, in the next chapter. Nevertheless, this is a good book for anyone to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2002

    Book Blows-Up Reader!

    I have been reading a lot of crummy books lately. This one broke the spell! Mr Russo kept me entertained and thinking throughout the story--which is really a few stories rolled into one--and introduced me to a little philosophy along the way (Stop! Don't let that turn you off.) I am not a critic but I love to read a good story and if you like John Irving or T.C. Boyle you will be happy with "Blowing Up a Dog". The characters are strong and believable. The plot moves along well and the ending left me satisfied. Not very a literary review, Huh? So what--the book still "blew me up!"

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