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The Wellbaby: Zack Grenville

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alias author Jan Hawke

Joined: 27 Dec 2008
Location: Dunheved Kernow
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7985
  Quote Jano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Wellbaby: Zack Grenville
    Posted: 04 Jan 2014 at 10:32pm
Beautiful (well)baby!

I don't read much contemporary fiction and when I do, a story about redneck folk isn't a subject that would lure me necessarily, but I'm fortunate enough to be familiar with author Zack Grenville's online work, so I HAD to read it and ended up being so glad that I was dipping into this well!

So what grabbed me? Amanda Prahl's grotty wardrobe - that and her fractured relationship with her alarm clock and her barman, Ralph. Strewth - I think Zack's seen inside my wardrobe, even though we're strictly online buddies! Left to my own devices I too could be mistress of a stinky wreck of a home like Amanda's, so even though I'm almost old enough to be her mommy, I was relating to her like mad, almost from the first sentence. Then there's hapless, hopeless outta work Floyd, 'orrible Arby the local dimestore, drugstore and every store you care to mention magnate and slobby, showboating, slip-sliding Bobcat Longstreet the mayor - the book is full of memorable characters that you'd swear you've met somewhere or other, even though you've never been near Oklahoma.

Small-town, small-minded America is made as fascinating, if not more so, than Beverley Hills or the Bronx ever were, and it's so refreshing to have the sub-text unvarnished and unapologetic with the home truths, instead of saccharine-coated folksy plaid-shirted good old boys. The Wellbaby mixes the murk with the mirth pretty much flawlessly to give a gutsy, salty story of Amanda's broken dreams of escape from her dead-end life and job, as Floyd's narrow little shirt-pinning world is banjaxed by the recession, all played out against the seamy undercurrents of mean-spirited bigotry, simmering into hate crime and the sordidly greasy pole of local town politics and promos.

Seriously, if for once you'd like to read about an America that isn't all about the movie business, leafy academia, ganglands or ghettos, whether in DC, or the East Coast, or 'hilarious' hilly billy 'stand by yer man' meets Deliverance territory, then The Wellbaby will blow those cobwebs in your mind away and take you deep down into the wellspring of Middle America, where secrets are as dirty as the soil and shaky morals hardly ever get to see the light of day. It's a bumpy, ballsy ride full of grit, grime and gumption, all wrapped up in a story you can believe in even if the American dream is thin on the ground.
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one
will do ~ Thomas Jefferson
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