From the Publisher
"Tenderly wrought recollections . . . unadorned yet evocative. . . . Book recaptures all of the angst, doubt, excitement and ennui that go along with rites of passage. Writing with hindsight and keen perception, he extracts humor and truth . . . from a thoroughly likable adolescent's day-to-day trials."
-- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Book is a wonderful stylist who makes Eric's voice both authentic-sounding and artful. . . . Although it doesn't shy away from dealing with hard-edged issues . . . this is a life-affirming book that celebrates Eric's feelings for his family, for hockey, and for the land. . . . The best thing about this very good book, though, is the large-spirited character of Eric himself: Eric acknowledges his fears and failings, but he is brave in confronting them and brilliantly successful as a human being who grows in his capacity for kindness and caring-a rare and memorable combination."
-- Booklist, Starred Review
"There is a rarely found but wonderful balance between the story lines and the character development-both are equally well-executed. Any teen will identify; any adult will reminisce. . . . An impressive read."
"Book's observant young narrator tells each tale with laconic sparkling wit."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"Resonates powerfully beyond the page."
-- Toronto Star
"The wonder of this collection is Book's command of metaphor and image . . . to reveal character and personality and to paint a Prairie landscape that bounces off the surface of the page like a mirage."
-- Globe and Mail
"An excellent choice for additional stories for high school English classrooms or for supplementary reading."
-- Resource Links
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These tenderly wrought recollections of growing up in rural Canada during the 1960's may be received just as warmly by baby-boomers as the target audience. Seven self-contained chapters crystallize some milestone events between October 1964 and September 1965--joyous beginnings and poignant endings--marking Eric Anderson's transition from childhood to adulthood. The narrative is unadorned yet evocative: "The cold scissored away at my clothes, poked with steely blades through zippers and down my collar" begins the chapter about Eric's action-packed season-end hockey game. Other chapters show different sides of tough yet sensitive Eric, as a lover who feels the sting of rejection as sharply as the first flutters of romance, as a member of the work force who learns some bittersweet lessons at his first job, and as a loyal son springing from a long line of stoic farmers. Book, a radio and TV journalist, recaptures all of the angst, doubt, excitement and ennui that go along with rites of passage. Writing with hindsight and keen perception, he extracts humor and truth--and a few life lessons--from a thoroughly likable adolescent's day-to-day trials. Ages 14-up. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
The year that he turns 16 is quite an eventful time for Eric Anderson, a likeable Saskatchewan farm boy. These seven, unusually well written, connected stories are written in the first person from Eric's point of view. They realistically run the gamut from "The Clodhopper's Halloween Ball," a gently amusing tale of Eric's first real date with a longtime friend (suddenly turned girlfriend) to "Saying Good-bye to the Tall Man," a poignant eulogy to his dead grandfather. In between are stories about sports, sexual awakening, survival, first real job and danger; the stories represent a variety of genres, held together by their coming of age theme and the appealing voice of the author. Although we do not know for sure, it seems as if these stories might be based on the author's life. The stories could be read and enjoyed by adults as well as young adults. 1999, HarperTempest/HarperCollins, $6.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Gisela Jernigan
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Eric Anderson, 16, experiences a series of major events in 1965: his first kiss, his first real girlfriend, a summer job away from home, his hockey team's loss of the championship game, and the death of his grandfather. Forced to evaluate his life several times that year, he gains valuable knowledge about love and family. While soldiers fight in Vietnam and blacks struggle for civil rights in the United States, Lashburg, Canada, becomes the battleground of Eric's adolescence. While vividly sketched, the seven short stories are slow to involve readers. The characters seem realistic but it is hard to get into the spirit of the whole novel. No overall theme is presented and the author's prose, while well written, may give readers pause on how this book might fit into their own rite of passage.-Jana R. Fine, Clearwater Public Library System, FL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Work, sports, making out, and breaking up: in seven linked stories set in 1965 a Saskatchewan teenager spins vividly personal takes on universal themes of adolescence, adding no fewer than three brushes with death to make the pleasures and pains of life all the more intense. It's an eventful year for Eric, beginning with a first official date ("The Clodhopper's Halloween Ball"), ending with his beloved grandfather's funeral ("Saying Good-Bye to the Tall Man"); in between he nearly dies in a sudden blizzard ("Sun Dogs"), fishes a suicide out of "The River," plays in a thrilling, hard-fought hockey game, discovers the pleasures of passionate lip-locking in the title story, and becomes conscious of the world outside his own narrow experience during "The Summer I Read Gone With The Wind." Book's observant young narrator tells each tale with laconic, sparkling wit ("Louise smiled and red lipstick filled the porch doorway and painted out the rest of the family"). Readers will come to knowand likeEric and admire the way he rises to every occasion. (Short stories. 12-14)
Read an Excerpt
So," said Dad, hesitating like he was straining to haul the words up from some well, "you're goin' on your first date tonight."
Jeez. I looked out the windshield. We were driving past my Uncle George's slough, heading up to a field to pick rocks. I could tell Dad had to make some kind of speech. I kept my eyes on the road ahead.
"Well, I can't believe you're old enough." Dad glanced over. I felt my face grow hot. I didn't know whether I was embarrassed for me or Dad or both of us. I hoped this wasn't about sex or something. He'd never talked to me about that. And this wasn't exactly the time as far as I was concerned.
"You know how we feel about Anna-Maria. She's like a daughter..."
I tuned him out like a radio station you can't quite get, like the ones that come skipping in across the prairies at night from Omaha or Kansas City, that fade in and out through the static. So I was going to the Halloween Sock Hop at the high school with Anna-Maria. Big deal! I'd known Anna-Maria since grade five, when her family moved to Lashburg. She's Italian. Her big brother Domenic's a couple of years older than us, a great baseball and hockey player.
Renaldo and Theresa, her parents, are best friends with Mom and Dad. Renaldo owns the hardware store in Lashburg and was in the Italian Resistance during the war. He's a nice enough guy a little moody because of the things he's seen, I guess. Theresa's different, full of fun, always laughing, an incredible cook.
She taught Mom how to make pasta from scratch. Which is not something people in Saskatchewan know muchabout, even though we grow the durum wheat that's used to make it.
Dad cleared a load of gravel out of his throat like he does when he's tense. Don't let this be The Big Talk. I figured God already knew about that party at Peter Bourin's place when we were in grade seven. I'd stayed overnight in town with friends. Someone pulled beer for us and we had a gallon jug of Calona wine, real cheap stuff. We joked about whether it would work better as paint remover or panty remover. Brave talk. Peter's parents were away. We all got pretty tight drinking beer and wine and snarfing all the chips and dip we could, and then everyone got down on the linoleum floor and started playing Spin the Bottle. I got Margaret Handle once she's cute and then Liver Lips Davies, the undertaker's daughter, picked me. You wonder how a girl can have such awful tasting lips. It's not as though you can brush them with toothpaste or anything. Anyway, that got the party going.
Later we were all dancing away to "Love Potion Number Nine" when people started disappearing. I saw Bev Bradley go into a bedroom just off the living room and I followed her in. The lights were out and there was a lot of giggling going on and I could tell someone was in the bed. Bev yelled, "Slide over!"and climbed in and I jumped in right behind her. Brian and Dorothy and Peter and Gayle were already there, but they sure weren't taking up much room. When I got in, Bev turned around and we started kissing. Just like that! You could hardly move, and we were hot and sweaty under the flannel sheets and blankets, and we just kissed and groped away. I finally got up the nerve to touch her right boob and she let me keep my hand there. They were huge, but I already knew that from watching her play sports at school. That's why we called her B.B. She thought for a long time it was because of her initials. She was madder than a wet cat when she found out. Anyway, they sure were soft. I was kneading them through her blouse and that industrial-strength bra of hers. After a while I started to undo her buttons. But she whispered, "No," and that's about as far as I got. After about an hour of necking, we all came up for air and piled out to the kitchen for more food and beer. That party was good for about two years' worth of talk, and the best thing of all was, Bev was a year older than me and in grade eight, so I felt like that was really something special.
Dad drove our new Chev half-ton into the field and we bounced across the ruts. We were headed for some big rocks he'd turned up summer-fallowing. Dad's getting up there, about 42, I think. Not exactly the life of the party, but he plays catch with me a lot, baseball or football, and sometimes he comes out and plays hockey with us on the slough. He was smoking a cigarillo (rum-soaked, wine-dipped) and wearing one of his HOP-X grasshopper spray hats. I'd noticed lately he had bits of gray in his hair. Farming isn't exactly an easy life.
Dad stopped the truck next to a boulder. It was still buried, just the round, white top sticking out like some dinosaur egg. Wouldn't that be something! We got out, got the crowbars and spades out of the back. Dad was thin compared to most of the farmers I knew who generally got fattened up on their wives' home cooking. He jammed the crowbar into the ground beside the rock, stopped, took the cigarillo out of his mouth and horked a gob of spit down into the dirt...