In this work, Brown tells the story of his pre-adolescent years. First, he introduces his “crew” of fellow mischievous young boys, whose nicknames included Dork, Lobster, Junkle, Butler, Cricket and Ding. In more than 50 short, sometimes-hilarious stories, he describes the occasionally dangerous pranks they committed in their neighborhood near Biscayne Bay. Each chapter describes one of their many acts of malfeasance, such as blowing up a mailbox with an oversized, homemade bomb; leaving broken Coca-Cola bottles under the brand new tires of Brown’s father’s Lincoln; and shooting at unsuspecting hermit crabs on the beach with high-powered slingshots. “[O]ur young lives were a twenty-four-hour assembly line of bumps, cuts and bruises,” Brown writes. But these acts, as he describes them, were never done with malice and were only the result of the severe boredom the boys endured as they rode their Sting-Ray bicycles around their neighborhood with little parental supervision. Other chapters tell of a stay at a disastrous summer camp in Tennessee where prunes were part of the required diet and of a time when the author took his friend’s father’s new Mercedes-Benz for a spin. Brown ends the book, however, on a somber note, as he returns to his old neighborhood after living with his family for a year in Seattle, only to find everything and everyone irrevocably changed. The most appealing aspect of this memoir is that it will surely rekindle some of its readers’ own memories of misguided childhood adventures. Brown keeps his short tales moving at a brisk pace, relating them in a casual narrative voice without contrived dialogue to slow the stories down. Throughout, his humorous chapter titles, such as “Monkey House,” “The Inconvenient Shrub,” and “The Lincoln Gets New Treads,” will likely keep readers guessing about the upcoming adventure.
An easygoing, funny and nostalgic debut.