GRANDMA ESCAPES E-JAIL!
GRANDMA DOES HIS DUTY
of a zany '50s misfit
Paul Pfarr's wildly funny memoir
breaks into print – get it here,
or from bookstores everywhere!
But what IS Grandma???
It's an intensely-written memoir, beginning when Paul is six with the title story, and ending with his first year of college.
Growing up in '50s Ohio, Paul is a born eccentric. He stands ideas on their heads relentlessly, and is completely opposed to modern times. To him, Indians, the woods life and Robin Hood are reality, and he develops ingenious methods to protect himself from the world's invasion.
"My most elaborate plan for dealing with punks never had to be used, but I came close one January with Lenny Totterhouse. We were to run six miles up the railroad (after swimming the icy creek), following up with my usual workout of rope-climbing, pushups, sit-ups, and hanging by the neck… We would make a glorious end with the fight, if he made it through the hanging."
Thoughtful, feisty, and fresh as a March wind,
-- Chapter XIV, "Modus Operandi"
it's surprisingly literary but comfortable to read. The book has an odd kick to its gallop – at times momentum rushes on powerfully, catching the unwary reader off-balance. Yet it's ingenuous as Forrest Gump, and the slow-paced rhythms of a small town and country living recall Garrison Keillor. A tour de force!
It was a time when kids could still roam their world freely. Some of us were there, but for those who missed out or want another look, Paul Pfarr brings it uniquely alive in these true stories.
Grandma Does His Duty
is a classic of American storytelling, with that timeless feeling of Tom Sawyer and Lake Wobegon. While you're busy with Paul's utterly sincere gyrations, the atmosphere is quietly working its way into your heart.
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
"Writing in the tradition of such great American humorists as Mark Twain and Garrison Keillor,
in Grandma Does His Duty
Paul Pfarr does an extraordinary job of recreating a family and community in the fifties and sixties. But it also speaks to more universal themes that resonate deeply, including sibling rivalry, the love of nature and of family, and the challenge of being true to self. Beautifully illustrated with art work by the author's father and brother, as well as other classic illustrations, Grandma Does His Duty is a book to read and reread--a book to treasure.”
-- Lisa Ede, Ph.D., Professor of English, Oregon State University
"...a fresh and intriguing voice as a storyteller..."
-- Alison Kilian, Lobster Press
"...a delightful voice..."
-- Judy Klein, Kleinworks
"...a fabulous style of writing..."
-- Catherine Courtade, Pantheon Books
"...a great ear and rhythm for humor and storytelling..."
-- Judy Mikalonis, Andrea Hurst and Associates Literary Management
HERE'S AN EXCERPT -- SAMPLE THE FLAVOR
from Chapter XII. - "Home on the Range"
My three brothers and I were in the raspberry patch, where a cool breeze played through the thin shade of locust trees. We all knew the rules of picking: begin at one end, and go through systematically to the other, making sure that every bush is picked clean before moving on. The berries were huge, and the bushes were loaded! We were picking as fast as we could with both hands, the buckets strapped to our belts. (Well... not my youngest brother Peter's. He couldn't bear the idea of doubling the work by using both hands.)
Silence prevailed for five minutes or so, except for my ongoing commentary on the berries. "Wow! Look at these berries!"
Every time I said it, my older brother Greg grew more annoyed, but I didn't notice. In my own private forge-ahead world, little attention was paid to other people's expressions.
Pretty soon, though, I saw Peter in the center of the patch, lazily picking a bush. "Hey, get back here, egghead!" I yelled.
This appellation was not a compliment to Peter's brainpower, but an expression reaching back to our cribs. Our oldest brother, Timmy, had derisively dubbed us all eggheads at some point, starting with Gregory, to make sure we knew our places. This brotherly endearment was usually accompanied by a dope slap and a sound like a spring unwinding, made by the perpetrator: "D-o-i-n-g-erl-erl-erl!"
My mother recently confided that, one day, Timmy had spied Peter, my younger brother Nicky, and me walking out our lane, and been moved to say lugubriously, in a rare moment of brotherly affection, "There goes a head, an egg, and a pig." Mother didn't inquire further – she was a little surprised at this effusiveness.
In continuing to use the term "egghead," we were just keeping the tradition alive, and, uh... "doing to others what had been done to us." Peter being the youngest, we felt that he represented the shallow end of the gene-pool, and had a lot to answer for.
Years earlier, Greg and I had made a discovery: from aloft in a tree, we couldn't see Peter's body while looking straight down at him, but only a head with two feet sticking out.
"Wow! Look at the size of that head!" Greg had marveled, his voice tinged with awe and pride. For some reason (and to our delight), nature had authorized the growth of his head beyond that of his body. If that weren't enough, he had another peculiarity: his hair grew at an indecent rate, which, of course, only increased the head's apparent size.
With rare rapport, we proclaimed Peter "Head" on the spot.
Peter's head always figured in events. When he was five, he had crowned himself "King Peter" with a conical kitchen ricer, and it got stuck. My mother first tried putting butter on his head, to slip the ricer off, but every time she pulled, Peter was lifted off the ground.
My father was at work, so we called Uncle Lou, who lived next door at the time, and he brought his hacksaw. Being a barber, when he first saw Peter's predicament, he remarked regretfully that it was too bad he couldn't shave his head first – the crown would be easier to get off.
Peter saw the hacksaw coming, and started screaming in earnest. I think he was afraid they were going to try to save the ricer at his expense. He bolted, but the escaped monarch was brought to earth on the front porch, and forcibly (but painlessly) divested of his crown, after a nerve-wracking 20 minutes or so of screaming.
This sort of thing seemed only natural, for him. Another time, he got an aspirin bottle stuck on his finger (it wouldn't fit on his head), and we prevailed on Uncle Lou again...
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wild for an opera career, Paul Pfarr won a voice scholarship at 18 to the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He was caught there by his wife Justice (Molly!) (still in captivity), caught by the Army during the Vietnam War (paroled), and caught by the back-to-the-land movement in the 1970s (exorcised).
With Justice, he wrote Build Your Own Log Cabin, Winchester Press, 1978. Suspect has two computer-related degrees, and is webmaster of http://www.choosing-natural-health.com. But writing, especially humor, seems necessary to keep him away from the cliff. Paul is still not a joiner, but no longer hangs himself by the neck (even by request).
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