HIGH WATER by Richard Spitz


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A brief, quirky memoir of a businessman’s unusually eventful life.

Debut author Spitz writes that he struggled under the mercurial tyranny of this father, whom he portrays as a sometimes-charming but brutal man. When he was in high school, the author decided to run away from his home in Maine to Daytona Beach, Florida, accompanied by his two best friends, Bob and Ed. Bob had a 1937 Ford, and the trio collectively raised $150 in travel money, just enough for a frugal budget. They eventually they made it to Daytona and found work with a mechanic, but Ed’s worried parents eventually collected him, and the remaining two soon returned to Maine, as well. The author’s tumultuous home life inspired him to plot escape again, this time with money raised from his illegal business selling dead deer to ersatz hunters who were only in the woods to get away from their wives; he was finally caught and given a year’s probation. He temporarily made amends with his father, who offered to send him to college. He attended Nichols College in Massachusetts and later enrolled at the University of Maryland’s law school. Along the way, he worked at a machine-gun factory, as a bootlegger, and as a salesman for a contact lens company (before he opened his own). This is a brief memoir, and it reads more like a recitation of events than a philosophical meditation. Here and there, the author offers moments of commentary, but he generally lets the events speak for themselves. Still, Spitz’s life is genuinely packed with adventures. For example, he once defended himself in a bar fight with an off-duty police officer and was threatened when he wouldn’t drop charges against his attacker; he says that he eventually accepted a $2,000 bribe to let bygones be bygones. The book ends so abruptly, though, that it seems unfinished; there are also closing reflections on the suicide of Clinton administration insider Vince Foster, which seem out of place. As a whole, the memoir lacks a firm structure or thematic unity, but it compensates with some generally good storytelling.

A flawed remembrance, but one dotted with extraordinary anecdotes.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5320-0832-0
Page count: 134pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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