Creatively dispatched memories from a noted essayist and fiction writer.
In his first foray into nonfiction, novelist Skibell (A Curable Romantic, 2010, etc.) touches on themes of identity, parental mortality, Judaism, and all of the foibles encountered within a close-knit lineage. The bonds of family figure greatly in these fondly depicted stories. In the resonant title piece, the first musical instrument the author’s father, a family businessman, bought him as a youngster—a Fender guitar—incites a “laughably Freudian” correlation to another guitar his father would later purchase as well as yet another he bought to perpetuate his father’s memory. Elsewhere, the author details his clumsy navigation around female students at college as a self-described “sexual maladroit” who dropped out of graduate school and dated a woman haunted by ghosts, a supernatural concept that he, then 23, mocked and arrogantly debunked with theoretical gibberish. Throughout the collection, Skibell makes plenty of room for humor. Though his family scoffed at his interest in learning the universal language Esperanto, he persevered “like a postman through the snow and the sleet and the gloom of their derision” only to hilariously turn the tables on a telemarketer by requesting they sponsor his classes. Another entry finds the author getting sweet comeuppance on a cousin who posted a negative review of his second novel online. The lengthier essays detail Skibell’s trials through his years struggling as a screenwriter in Hollywood and the histrionic heritage of his father’s cousin Tiger. In the closing essay, the author reflects on the occupational hazards of being a published author and the revelations that can occur after listening to a complete stranger’s tale of woe. Colorful and endearing, the book will appeal to readers who appreciate Augusten Burroughs–style, real-life anecdotal ponderings focused on familial ties and how life’s eternal cycle of enchantment and disillusionment somehow sustains us.
A memoir/essay collection of consistently heartfelt and enlightening morsels of humanity.