by Michael Steinberg
Category: Fiction / General
148 pages; ISBN: 0000000000
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
Romantic, Connecticut is your average New England mill town that has seen better days. The Factory is long since closed and vacant. Main Street has too many vacant storefronts. A number of those empty windows have had "Coming Soon..." signs in them for much too long. Scamp is one of the local street people.
He may or may not be "developmentally degraded," but his purpose in life is to follow the Protocol and provide the Product (drug dealing?) as laid down by Big Guy and his woman, Boss Lady. Life becomes a daily grind of staying warm in a corner of the town library, cashing in cans to get money for food, keeping Big Guy happy, and sleeping on the banks of the River, one of the town's major landmarks. All the while, Scamp does his best to not attract the attention of Romantic's corrupt and overzealous police department.
Sal is back in town after years of playing guitar for a sixth-rate New Orleans strip club. He hangs out with his father, Pop, who spends his days in front of the TV watching New York Yankees baseball, or 24-hour war movies. Pop tells Sal to go find Rocco, his younger brother, who hasn't been around for years. This is something Sal doesn't want to do, because the history between him and Rocco (aka Scamp) is too unpleasant. Sal works at a local sixth-rate music shop called Slim's Pickens, the sort of place where the entrance of a customer is a major event.
After several run-ins with the same corrupt and overzealous Romantic P.D., and especially after Pop dies and leaves his money to Rocco/Scamp, who is nowhere to be found, Sal thinks strongly about leaving Romantic and heading back to the familiar environs of New Orleans.
This book could take place in any small town in New England, if not all of America. It may take some work on the part of the reader, but it has a strong Woody Guthrie feel to it, and it is well worth reading. Because this book won't be found in the local mall chain store, an email to firstname.lastname@example.org asking about the price is very much recommended. Do it today.