3 out of 4 stars
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Miles and Myles was a hit singing duo in the eighties. However, at the height of the duo’s fame, Maddie Myles left Miles Gerber, her husband and singing partner, causing him great heartbreak. Despite his pain, Miles managed to form a new band of three men, Miles and the sh*t Disturbers. Miles is the songwriter and lead singer, and the other two are Dougie Morrison, fiddler, and Drummer, drummer. The band has been touring the Canadian bar circuit for over twenty years, but the earnings are dwindling. Miles is practically a has-been.
On their way to a gig in Needham aboard their decrepit Ford van, Nelly-Belle, they pick up an injured young woman, MG, by the roadside. MG claims to have been abandoned by her bandmates, The Prideful Scoffers. With blustering confidence, she convinces Miles to make her the band’s manager and merch girl. Will MG be Miles’ lucky charm?
James Gordon’s The Ark Of The Oven Mitt gave me a wonderful time. It’s a book and music album in one! The story includes 36 music tracks, 17 of them originally recorded for the book. Gordon is a Canadian folk singer and songwriter. He wrote the book while holed up in his home, courtesy of the pandemic. I’ve never heard of him, but now I am a fan. I read the PDF version, listened to all the songs, and caught snatches of the audiobook voiced by Gordon himself. (I noted that the audiobook and the e-book had slight differences.) I believe the reader will have the best experience by listening to the audiobook while being guided by the e-book; the visuals would help with the unusual pronunciations and also enable the reader to sing along with the musical parts.
The reader should expect to get better acquainted with the Great White North, Canada. It was fun learning the Canadian connections of Neil Young and Winnie the Pooh. Did you know that Neil Young’s first car was a hearse? I’m now eager to taste Tim Hortons coffee, and I will never forget that Winnipeg “is in the middle.” Of course, I had to contend with Canadian slang, but it was a welcome and an easy-to-overcome challenge. I also encountered showbiz lingo, which was manageable.
Gordon features a bunch of unique characters. There’s Miles, the “Gandhi-esque songologist.” The band has a Cree drummer, who was adopted and raised by a White family; he narrates most of the story. Dougie, the fiddler, names the animals they pass on the road, making sure to keep the driver, usually Miles, awake. MG sports a shaved head and a nose ring and holds her own among the men. Part of the supporting cast is Madam Claire Voyant, mind reader, fortune teller, futurist, and manicurist! Parts of the story are narrated by old Nelly-Belle, the van; she also graces the cover.
Obviously, the author has a great sense of humor. His clever puns will have you chuckling throughout the book. He emphasizes a fortuitous event, calling it “FIVEtuitous.” The vests of a cleaning crew are emblazoned with their name, “Gang Green.” The band is described as having hit rock bottom, or rather “country-rock bottom.” Most of the characters play with words, though, which may be unrealistic. The author may want to look into that.
I cannot discuss the title, for then I would be in spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that the story ended splendidly. I wish it could happen that way in real life.
Though I want to give the book the best rating, I can’t. The book has too many grammatical issues. Punctuation errors, misspellings, and misused homophones are my major complaints. Some song lyrics are also wrong. Thus, it is with a heavy heart that I give the book 3 out of 4 stars.
Lovers of music, particularly country rock, will relish this book. I especially recommend the following songs: “Without You” to the romantic followers of John Legend, “You Want To Feel Heard” to people who need comforting, and “We Can Do This” and “We’re On The Same Side” to those who like John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
The book vividly presents how technology is affecting lives: displacing local traders; strangling industries, including show business; and torturing the planet. Are we better off now? This sentence in the book moved me to the core: “My dream is to have a dream.”
I beg the author to fine-tune the editing. Then, this book would be a keeper: a delightful symphony in a discordant world.
The Ark Of The Oven Mitt
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