Finished: Mar. 30, 2008
First Published: 1966
Genre: fictional memoir, humour
I felt like a spy.
Reason for Reading: I wrote this in a previous post a while ago. I saw a review of In God We Trust a little while ago (sorry forget who) and it brought the book back to my memory. When I was in Grade 5, my teacher, Mr. Prowse, read parts of this book to us and I just fell in love with it. I asked my parents to get the book for me (this was 1977) and they couldn't find it anywhere. Later in life, I'd remember it occasionally and look but never was able to find it in print (this was pre-Internet). Of course, I hadn't thought of the book in years when I saw that review and was thrilled that it was back in print and I just had to get a copy. This same teacher also read to us from James Thurber that year, which set me off reading Thurber at time. Ah, memories!
Comments: Ralph Parker returns to his hometown in Indiana where he walks into a bar and starts reminiscing with the bartender, a boyhood friend of his. The chapters alternate between the modern day bar setting and a childhood reminiscence. Several of the chapters were published previously as short stories in Playboy magazine over a period of several years. The popular movie The Christmas Story is based on one of the stories in this book. Most of the stories take place during the Depression when Ralph was a child. Some feature his childhood exploits and others focus more on his parents or simply the "good ol' days". These are wonderful, nostalgic and oftentimes very funny stories. For the 21st century reader, even the 1960s modern day chapters are nostalgic. Some chapters are better than others and I would have preferred the reminiscences without the segue chapters which felt like an unnecessary afterthought. Light and fun reading.