After a friend had taken the bone chilling dive into e-publishing, I thought, “Why not?” But then I have not the brave heart and rhinoceros hide my friend has. I’m taking it slowly, getting my feet wet one toe at a time.
To this end, I’ve been reading a lot of self-published (free!) books this summer, just to see what’s out there.
My plan was to review all the books I read, but the quality of four fifths of the first batch was appalling. The goal was to hang on for at least two pages of each, but that proved to be too much to ask. The 5th book , a short story really, hooked me.
While trawling through the e-pub fishing limits, I reeled in an oddly titled work:
Having been blessed with a number of story-telling Jewish auxilliary grandparents, who would make up these kind of endearments for me, I can spot a Yiddish-ism a mile away and I was betting this story would be good.
Robert Chapin is a story teller. He’s not (in this case) aspiring to any literary heights and provides 10 pages of solid, captivating, conversational storytelling. This is a small town, porch-sitting-of-an-evening story whose simplicty reveals larger truths and takes it beyond the ordinary. It is subtitled “ a true story”, and from the first sentence, I was willing to go along with that.
Set in a small Massachusetts town, the characters and settings spring to life without wordy ornamentation. None of the characters, save the presumably delectable Marilyn Snell, who we are told, is a blonde, are described in physical details.
However, when Chapin tells us Mrs. Dyjak “…was all business-feared by the kids who entered the store to buy a bottle of coke”, you know you’ve got a corner-shop battle-axe standing in front of you. In contrast, Mr. Dyjak, her husband is described more gently: “When slicing and weighing lunch meat, he always threw an additional two or three slices in the package.” It is clear that the battle-axe is married to a big softy.
These characters are reassuringly familiar and yet unfamiliar enough to be interesting. In a brief paragraph, (or a few sentences if the reader is susceptible), it becomes easy to care about what happens to these people, however un-momentous the events of their lives seem in the greater world view.
Mr. Chapin lets us know that the Poopoofnick finishes highschool, gets a job, gets drafted into the Army and goes to Viet-Nam. He is awarded a purple heart and returns more or less in one piece to the US and then… in the finest storytelling tradition, we are promised that more will follow in “Lee Iacocca, The Baby Boomer and My Mustang 1964.”
“My Little Poopoofnick”is what author, actor, Renaissance man, Stephen Fry would call a “snack read”, a literary lagniappe which leaves the reader hungry for more. As one of my many “Bubbies” would say, “Try it, you’ll like it.”
“My Little Poopoofnick” by Robert Chapin