What Trouble Looks Like
Written while under the influence of Chuck Palahniuk, What Trouble Looks Like is disturbing, hilarious, violent and filled with good suggestions on how not to run an alternative school. Did I mention hilarious?
On Account of Because (2017)
On Account of Because tells the story of Clayton Clevinger, son of a drunk, friend of a lunatic and protector of a mouse. Clayton, 15, has lived alone with Pops most of his life. Lucinda, his mother, has drifted in and out of their lives, usually when she needs money, and has told Clayton she wishes she’d solved him in the womb—with a knitting needle. Pops, a veteran of Alcoholics Anonymous, is good at mouthing slogans and platitudes (“My best day drunk is worse than my worst day sober,” “Let go and let God”) but can’t quite grasp a core tenet: don’t drink.
The novel begins at Clayton’s eighth-grade graduation, ruined by Pops’ drunken catcalls about a classmate’s breasts. Although they are staying temporarily with Gramper and Cookie, Clayton’s grandparents, but that visit is doomed to end because of Pops’ drinking. Pops and Clayton move to a two-room apartment above a hairdresser and pizza parlor, where Clayton meets Shiny, a small teenager who, despite Shiny’s many tall tales becomes Clayton’s best friend.
Throughout the book, Clayton learns the value of family (through his grandparents, not Pop), the risks of friendship, the joys of Oscar Wilde and how to protect a mouse.
A Cult of One
Set in 1970 Durham, NH, when Vietnam veterans were first being portrayed as inhuman killing machines, drug-crazed lunatics or misguided patriots, A Cult of One gives us Ricky, a vet who went to Vietnam as a boy and came back a Buddhist sage. Or is he?