Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spooner-Peter Dexter

Peter Dexter
Grand Central, Oct 25 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780446540735

On December 6 1953, after two plus days in labor, the woman gives birth to twins. The handsome newborn is dead on arrival while the uglier one named Warren Spooner survived. The mother prefers her deceased child over her breathing offspring.

On the same day Congressman Rudolph Toebox dies too. His funeral is held at sea led by US Naval Commander Calmer Ottosson. Soon afterward Ottosson leaves the military and marries Spooner’s mom. This leaves Warren with superstar step-siblings while his talent is to anger folks who fume for hours after brief encounters. Spooner actually finds he has a talent as a baseball pitcher, but an elbow injury aborted his career. He lands a reporter’s job where he is universally loathed. Eventually with a bad cloud hanging over his head, he flees to Whidbey Island, off the coast of Washington State. at the same that bad luck is Spooner’s only mojo his stepfather becomes a successful principal.

This is a humorous satire that lampoons sacred societal icons as nothing seems to go right for Spooner in his relationship with others starting with his birth and the death of his twin, and the success of his stepfather while the title character constantly fails. Although the dark graveyard jocularity at times overwhelms the cohesiveness of the story line, Peter Dexter provides his audience with a deep character study through a dirty lens that spoofs the American dream as a nightmare.

Harriet Klausner

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