Howard Denson, a native of Jasper, Ala., grew up reading Mark Twain, James Thurber, Robert Benchley, plus a host of serio-comic novelists. His aunts, parents, and grandparents immersed him in life in the 1920s and 1930s, and Hollywood filled in any gaps in what he learned thanks to Cagney, Robinson, and the Thin Man. He says he has been a flunky for various newspapers in Florida and Alabama and a teacher of college-level writing and humanities in Jacksonville, Fla. He finds significant parallels between the stresses of the Great Depression and the newer Great Recession.
Mowbray and the Sharksby Mr. Howard Denson III
MOWBRAY AND THE SHARKS is whimsical fiction about the Midwest bank-robber Tommy-Gun Watson trying to out-do Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde as he robs his way toward New York City in 1936. He complains that newspapers ignore his exploits and only give attention to the would-be heir Tommy Watson and his alleged misdeeds. Tommy is competing with his cousin Conrad Blocker for an inheritance of $137 million from his Uncle Sinclair Watson. Neither cousin knows that the "contest" of good behavior is rigged so that the fortune will go to a Nazi front so it can promote pacifism on the eve of World War II. Conrad's pranks cause Tommy to be embarrassed in the newspapers by Bubbles LaBonza, the Boom Boom Girl from Paducah. She's also the girl friend of mobster Bugsy Rittoria ("a noted butterfly collector and diversified businessman"), who is convinced that the Watson kid is the gangster threatening to take over New York. While the Tommy pines after his beloved Ellen, Bugsy goes in with rival gang leader Ratsky Fluegel to hire a feared hitman, Luigi Goldberg O'Brien of Chicago. Mowbray has one talent that may be helpful as the story races toward wedding or funeral bells: He has been able to see ghosts since an experiment went wrong when he was a boy. The story evokes Oscar Wilde's "Canterville Ghost," Thorne Smith's "Topper" stories, P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves, and Damon Runyon's colorful bad guys. Mowbray's ghostly universe has these restrictions: First, it's generally not healthy being a ghost; not everyone who dies becomes a ghost; some ghosts can't see other ghosts; no one talks to them so they are apt to become neurotic. Mowbray's special abilities also let him see the manifestations of diseases and popular fictional characters (e.g., Sherlock, Hamlet, Tarzan) when the collective "mind" of a society is thinking about them.
- Howard Denson
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.67(d)
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Mowbrey is the quintessential gentleman’s gentleman who mirrors the strange society around him. In this original tale, he encounters ghosts, the nature of ghosts, and bad guys galore – both rich and poor. He faithfully records all and leaves the reader wondering what he will next encounter. Best in the tale telling is the author’s revenge on the thirty plus years of bad English he’s redlined in the teaching of English to those who would prefer not to learn it. Word use is excellent, particularly the malapropisms. The Bowery Boys have nothing on Tommy-gun Watson. “He learned me that word,” one of his henchmen says, when describing Tommy-Gun, that “agitatious” soul who winds up on the Hindenberg, no less. The 1930’s historical context makes for interesting backdrop as well.