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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Monday, July 6

A Spot of Bother

I recently finished reading Mark Haddon’s A Spot of Bother, and what a nice read it was. It’s the story of a dysfunctional family reacting to the upcoming wedding of a daughter, Katie, to Ray, a man of whom most of the family don’t approve. George Hall, the father, is going a little crazy, thinking that a recently discovered spot on his thigh is probably cancerous. Jean Hall, the mother, is having a late-life affair with George’s business partner. And Jamie Hall, the son, is having a problem with his lover Tony, because he doesn’t want to bring him to the wedding, thus acknowledging to family and friends that he’s gay. Just your everyday, ordinary dysfunctioning. It’s one of the first novels I’ve read in a long time that had me laughing out loud. It’s becoming harder and harder for anything in print to get me to laugh out loud. I’m not sure if it was the characters or the plot that so amused me. Or maybe the style, which is much like that other really funny writer, Garrison Keillor. Check out some of Haddon’s wry observations about life and love.

[This one echoing Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”] “Obviously it would be nice to go quietly in one’s sleep. But going quietly in one’s sleep was an idea cooked up by parents to make the deaths of grandparents and hamsters less traumatic. And doubtless some people did go quietly in their sleep but most did so only after many wounding rounds with the Grim Reaper.”

[Katie’s observation of men in general] “They took up so much space. That was the problem with men. It wasn’t just the leg sprawl and the clumping down stairs. It was the constant demand for attention. Sit in a room with another woman and you could think. Men had that little flashing light on top of their heads. Hello. It’s me. I’m still here.”

[A nice comment on the way we view life as we pass through it] “At twenty life was like wrestling an octopus. Every moment mattered. At thirty it was a walk in the country. Most of the time your mind was somewhere else. By the time you got to seventy it was probably like watching snooker on the telly.”

[On youth and the cell phone/tweeting/texting age] “In another fifty years children would have the attention spans of sparrows and no imagination whatsoever.”

If your life seems a bit gray and gloomy, you might insert a few rays of sunshine by reading A Spot of Bother.

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