Me, Dead Dad, and Alcatraz

Me, Dead Dad, and Alcatraz

by Chris Lynch

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Why is Elvin such a lightning rod for people trying to improve him?

For as long as Elvin can remember, it’s been just him and his mom, the only blood relative he knows. But out of the blue, his supposedly dead uncle, Alex, shows up. Elvin learns that years ago, Alex stole the money his dad had left to him and his mom—but now Alex wants toSee more details below


Why is Elvin such a lightning rod for people trying to improve him?

For as long as Elvin can remember, it’s been just him and his mom, the only blood relative he knows. But out of the blue, his supposedly dead uncle, Alex, shows up. Elvin learns that years ago, Alex stole the money his dad had left to him and his mom—but now Alex wants to make amends with Elvin. He wants to improve all sorts of things, offering to fix Elvin’s hair and get him a gym membership. The problem is, Elvin doesn’t think his life needs fixing.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Chris Lynch including rare images from the author’s personal collection.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8-10-In this darkly comic follow-up to Slot Machine (1995) and Extreme Elvin (1999, both HarperCollins), Elvin Bishop, 14, must deal with an uncle's return from the dead and unsettling questions about everything from his family history to his own sexuality. This novel can stand alone, but readers already familiar with the chubby, anxious, but kindhearted teen and his friends Mikie and Frankie may have an easier time getting into the story. Elvin, who lives with his widowed mother, is shocked to discover that his uncle--supposedly dead from a plane crash-is alive, well, and sitting on the living-room couch. Uncle Alex is out of prison and determined to make up for his checkered past by becoming a father figure to his nephew. Madcap adventures ensue, the funniest of which may be Elvin's attempt to replicate handsome Frankie's hairstyle. Inevitably, Elvin ends up with a frizzy perm and a color between orange and green. Alex's brief presence in Elvin's life creates chaos but also brings understanding. The teen learns to drop his sarcasm and self-deprecating humor to let his true emotions shine through. Some readers may struggle with his ongoing internal dialogue, which sometimes bogs the story down. Still, most will identify with Elvin's outsider status and enjoy his hilarious missteps on the path to adulthood.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Open Road Media
Publication date:
Elvin Bishop Books
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Me, Dead Dad, & Alcatraz

By Chris Lynch

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Chris Lynch
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060597097

Chapter One

Think, Therefore
I Am, I Think

Who are you?

How do you figure?

How are you supposed to know anything, really, but specifically, how are you supposed to know who you are?

Who am I, and what am I, and if I think I have worked that out, what happens if something new falls into the gumbo and changes it? Does that make me something new entirely? Should I get new clothes?

I found my mother sitting on the footboard of my bed with her back to me. It was an unsettling thing to wake up to, and I knew she hadn't come to tell me there were no blueberries for my pancakes.

"Elvin, have we ever talked about your father's brother Alex?"

The simple questions are always the worst. If you think you know the answer right off, then for God's sake dive into your laundry hamper. If you're completely lost, you're probably okay.

"Ya. The one who died in the plane crash, right?"

A brief, buzzy silence.

"Oh. So I did say that, then."

Should a mother really have to check and see what she has told you in the past? I'd have to say no.

"Um, ya, you did say that. Ma. Because he died. In a plane crash."

Because her back was to me, I was reading her shoulders. They slumped. They slumped and gradually sort of folded forward in a gesture of deceit and shame and awfulness before she finally stood and, keeping her back to me, said, "Except that he didn't, die in a plane crash. He is, more specifically, on the couch having a cup of tea and an English muffin with marmalade. Would you like an English muffin with some marmalade?"

Well then. What does one say?

"Not dead, you say?" is what I said.

Her sorry shoulders shrugged. But at least she turned around to face me. "It was really for your own good, Elvin."

"I know, and I'll understand someday, and I'll thank you when I'm older, and you had always intended to tell me when the time was right, but the time was never right, blah blah -- "

"Oh God, no, I was never going to tell if you didn't catch me."

Sometimes her refreshing honesty really bunches me up. Especially when it's woven with great, whopping lies.

All this and I wasn't even out of bed yet. It was a wonder I ever woke up at all. Someday, I figured, I just wouldn't. Possibly tomorrow, if it's not really sunny.

"You know, Ma, stuff like this is the reason I'm fat and mental."

"You are not mental; you're just big boned. Put on your bathrobe, because your uncle is waiting to meet you."

Just the words. Just the thought and the words banged up together like that, about my father having a brother, and his brother having an English muffin. Right downstairs. Waiting for me. Wanting to see me. What could he want from me? I had a ghost uncle, and he was waiting for me. It was like a total Shakespeare tragedy.

And I was no tragic hero.

My uncle. All my father's people were gone, and most of my mother's, apart from a few distant stragglers clinging to the rocks of our family history. I thought we were all we had, and you know, I had gotten okay with us being all we had. I even liked being all we had.

I was told that by my mother. You hear something like that from your mother, you have to think you've got it from a fairly reliable source. But that would be your mother; this was my mother.

So if she made up the plane crash . . . what else wasn't true? How many other dead people were out there roaming the landscape waiting to come sit on our couch? Could I be infested with all kinds of grandparents and cousins and things that I never knew I had and that, frankly, I didn't want?

When something is too much to contemplate, there is only one rational way to go. I would not contemplate it. The story of the plane crash that killed my father's brother Alex was true. It was tragic and romantic and didn't hurt me one little bit. There was no Alex anymore.

"Who are you?" was my icebreaker before I was even all the way down the stairs.

"Hi, Elvin, I'm Alex," he said when I walked through the living room door. He sprinted to me and started pumping my hand wildly. His hand was marmalade sticky.

"No, you're not," I said, pulling my hand back gradually.

The guy turned back toward the couch, where my mother was now sitting with a cup of tea. She shrugged.

"I told you he'd say something like that," she said.

"Why are you letting yourself be conned?" I demanded of my normally fabulously skeptical mother. "He's a fake. He probably just wants our money."

"We don't have any money, Elvin."

"Really? Still?" the guy said. He had concern, both on his face and in his voice. He was nearly convincing. "Well, maybe I can help you all out with that, too."

"Oh . . . jeez, Ma, look what you did now. You embarrassed us in front of the con man."

"I am not a con man. And you have no reason to be embarrassed in front of me."

As if she heard that as an invitation, or a challenge, or her cue, my dog came slouching into the room. Grog.

"Oh mercy," the guy said. "What have we got here?"

"Grog is what we have here. That's our idea of a dog. So you see, we wouldn't have anything you'd be interested in."

He recovered quickly, and I had to give him points for actually crouching down to pet her. Most people just pull their hands up into their sleeves. "Don't believe I've ever seen a breed like him before. What is he?"

"He's a she, that's what he is."

"No offense, but I think I know a penis when I see one."

"That's not a penis. We're not sure what it is, but we are sure she has had puppies. They're not here anymore. The Smithsonian took most of them, and Roswell has the rest."

Still crouching, still politely stroking the hairy slab of mystery meat that was Grog, he turned once more back toward Ma.

"Why is he doing this?"


Excerpted from Me, Dead Dad, & Alcatraz by Chris Lynch Copyright © 2005 by Chris Lynch.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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