Charlie Lord is a Japanese-American growing up in Mythic, Connecticut in the 1960s. He goes through all the regular challenges and joys of being a teenager at that time. He grew up in a somewhat unusual home with lewd displays and a sexually voracious uncle. Charlie was special in many ways. His IQ, to begin with, was higher than average. His excellence spilled over into hiding his deteriorating eyesight, saxophone, and later wrestling. This is a story of Charlie’s life as an ignored child with all his ‘board friends’ and special talents. We walk through the teenage life of ‘Hiroshima’ during a very eventful period.
The Autobiography of Charlie Lord is Bill Wetmore’s first book. The author has written a great book colored with humor and vivid imagery. This is a story about the engagements between family and the dynamics between people. It is a window into a family with a highly decorated father and a foreign submissive mother in that era. This story is consistently brilliant with only brief breaks for Charlie’s mom’s funny accent.
There is a certain quality that comes with being a child in that stage of life. This is the same quality that has Charlie hiding his eye problem. The same problem that has him love and adore his father with subtle caution. This character has been so well presented to the reader that you can almost concoct an image of Charlie and what he would look like at that time. The same excellent craftiness and expertise with words will have you seeing Eddie Lord in your mind in all his military greatness.
The way the story is told will grip you right from the beginning and keep you following Charlie’s life until the end. His humor and style of expression are uncanny. Some of the scenes do not seem to be in line with the characters as we know them. Like when Charlie comes home on a rainy evening then goes straight to bed without food. At first, it will be hard to understand but as we learn more about ‘Gloria’ and her relationship with her husband, it becomes more plausible. Their neglect of him is simply astounding.
The Autobiography of Charlie Lord is a deeply evocative book both in terms of narration and character development. There is some coarse language as well as some lewd scenes so it would not be suitable for a young child, but perfect for fans character driven stories.
Pages: 264 | ASIN: B077WHFNMJ
After college, Strafe’s life was pretty aimless. Living in his mother’s basement and trying to discover what his ambitions might be, he gave a perpetual half hearted attempt to find some kind of path he could follow. Only after landing an unlikely job at the local glue factory did Strafe’s life finally begin to take some direction. Suddenly he had a steady paycheck, a new found interest in Zen Buddhism, a creative spark he never knew he held, and an artist girlfriend he never expected to have, all while navigating the world inside the American Starch and Adhesives Company.
Unglued- The Book of Strafe, by Bill Wetmore, follows a compelling main character as he navigates a seemingly lackluster life while also cleverly illustrating how it can often be equal parts absurd and enlightening. From the first few sentences, it’s clear the book has a wildly tongue-in-cheek tone as Peter Caldwell Strafe explains, in no uncertain terms, his hatred of his first name. The ridiculousness increases from there, and although the first few chapters read like vaguely related short stories, they quickly gel together to create a more linear story. The Glue Factory, as it is affectionately known among the locals, stands as an entire character itself, with its inhabitants serving as the inspiration for many of Strafe’s own short story ideas. Despite his rocky start and apparent complete lack of effort, we watch Strafe grow and mature as a person over the course of time. By applying the laws of Zen Buddhism to his everyday life, he eventually becomes a self sufficient adult, separating himself from the turmoil and eccentricity that surrounds him most days. The snapshot of late 1970s suburbia is an added bonus of the book, and while it doesn’t play a huge part, it’s enough to add a layer of atmosphere that is indispensable overall.
If Unglued has a theme, I think it’s that of personal growth. Strafe begins the book an adult, but lacking any of the responsibilities that come with that distinction. By its conclusion, he has become a completely different person. As each new day brings another surprise, Strafe learns to adapt and appreciate all the things he never paid much attention to in the past.
Unglued was fun from beginning to end, and once it found a rhythm, it never slowed its pace. The book dealt with some serious issues in very lighthearted ways that made it an incredibly easy and enjoyable read. While it may be too far on the absurdity spectrum for some, I found it absolutely perfect!
Pages: 219 | ASIN: B08671HHTP