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Marsh Township Sanitary District

A smart, ribald and often provocative memoir.

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A man recalls his teenage years working a horrible job in the 1970s in this debut memoir.

“Summer is a romantic season, not one for us poor flatlanders to squander in the cold, bleak upper Midwest,” Scariano writes at the beginning of his mordantly funny and sometimes-moving remembrance. In 1975, the author’s father called in a favor to get Scariano a job in order to teach him the value of a dollar and the virtue of good, honest work. But the author admits that he might have fled the jurisdiction if he’d known that the job involved working at the Marsh Township Sanitary District—a sewage treatment plant that processes “industrial waste and sewage flushed down fifty thousand toilets in the homes and factories of Chicago Heights, Illinois.” The teenage Scariano fails to see the personal-improvement benefit of exposing himself daily to a wide array of toxins and carcinogens. The author tells the story in a series of precisely realized vignettes that vary from raucous, disgusting adventures with his colorful co-workers to surprisingly challenging tales of encountering racism, intolerance and corruption. Other scenes dramatize his first fumbling experiences with drinking and romance, and he presents them with a sweet undertone of nostalgia but never false sentimentality. He fills his memoir with the songs, TV shows and catchphrases of the mid-1970s but also with bittersweet recollections of his earlier self (“I read and read, pedal, run, swim, read, killing time, wanting to get back to school so terrifically”). Even the story’s climax, a frighteningly cinematic scene in which young Scariano is sucked into a sewage tank and nearly drowns, is turned skillfully back toward comedy. Although the era the author describes has now all but vanished, he brings it vividly back to life in these pages.

A smart, ribald and often provocative memoir.

Pub Date: June 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481762885

Page Count: 122

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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