3 out of 4 stars
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"Hey Mom, The Recliner Fell on Dad Again!", by Tom McKenna, is a collection of five short stories. In the first one, the narrator is preparing to compete in a short story competition when, by mysterious events, he gets to interact with some of his own literary heroes: Erma Bombeck, Art Buchwald, and Neil Simon. The second story narrates the woes of a hospital messenger who has tickets to see the Stones in concert. When he sees he has a shot at bringing his cute co-worker, Ginny, along, he leaves his little sister in the dust. The third vignette centers around a guy who interacts with his dad on an anniversary of his father's death. The fourth story relates a journalist's efforts to capture the Senator's glory baseball years during Calvin Coolidge's administration. The fifth and final narrative is about Thomas J. McCauley and his growing up days in the sixties. It retells memories of playing football with neighborhood kids and his choice as a young adult to attempt to become a priest.
This particular collection of short stories is good for some laughs and a walk down memory lane, as references to past events and famous people abound. Light-hearted wit and creativity are both driving forces throughout these stories. If you prefer heavier topics or reading that is deeply intellectual, this book is not a good match for you. That's not to say that the author doesn't demonstrate intellect, as he certainly does through his use of a broad vocabulary and witty remarks. On the other hand, if you are in the mood to sit back and vicariously live through someone else's humorous imaginings, if only for a short while, then you may appreciate this narrative.
My favorite part of this collection is the last story. It is the longest story of the collection, and, due to this, I feel like I had more invested in the characters. Thomas' family felt like an authentic representation of one from the sixties. Friction among his parents, sweaty football games with neighborhood kids, and antics of the boys as they grew up and tried to navigate the adult world all coalesced into an entertaining tale.
Several of the popular culture references used in this book are dated. I am sure I missed out on some of the humor described in this book just because I didn't know exactly who or what the author was talking about. This is more of a reflection on my limited experiences than on the author. However, I liked this part least. This book also could use another round of editing, as there were several mistakes throughout the story.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. While the sense of humor used was not always my style, and some of the references to popular culture were before my time or outside of my scope of experience, I still see the entertainment value of this book. I recommend it to Baby Boomers and history buffs who are in the mood for some precocious giggles and short reads. Hats off to the author for letting his voice shine.
'Hey Mom, the Recliner Fell on Dad Again!'
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