by Mark Doyon
Category: Fiction / General
142 pages; ISBN: 1929763093
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
This is a connected group of stories about the fictional town of Bonneville, somewhere in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
The Mayor, broke and running from creditors, secretly returns to town. He is not the most popular person in town. A few years previously, he helped bring a secret fireworks factory to Bonneville. Everyone in town worked there. Customers came from miles around. The money was rolling in like an Indian casino, until the authorities started asking questions. The factory closed, the newfound riches disappeared, and the Mayor was run out of town. So the Mayor has returned to open a speakeasy, under an unused barn about half a mile from the nearest road.
Roy Sullivan is in the Guinness Book of World Records, having been struck by lightning seven times in his life. Being struck once makes a person a celebrity, but being struck seven times leads to rumors that God is punishing him for something.
The local Laundromat has a slot machine. While she is playing it over and over, Sarah Ann Muskie thinks about karma. For every Vanna White who rockets to stardom, a ravishing beauty is hit by a bus. She remembers the day her father died, in front of her on the playground, in a freak accident. She buys a Powerball ticket and watches, incredulous, as the winning numbers equal the numbers on her ticket--minus one. She returns to the Laundromat and introduces the slot machine to her pistol, one bullet at a time.
Randy works for a local gardening company. Just out of high school, he makes pretty good money spreading mulch and running a lawn mower. He is told to go back to a customer’s house to replace some suddenly-dead azaleas. The only problem is that the customer, Mrs. Anders, is a very attractive woman and lets Randy know, in no uncertain terms, that she is interested in romance.
I really enjoyed these stories. They are the sort of tales that could take place in any town in America, with just a touch of “different.” The author’s writing has been compared to Roald Dahl and Ray Bradbury. May I humbly add the name of Garrison Keillor to that list. These stories are very much worth the reader’s time.