2 out of 4 stars
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Are you looking for stories about life in the olden days? If so, John Reseck Jr.’s book, Life According to Grandpa, is a good choice. This book is a compilation of Reseck Jr.’s life experiences as a marine biologist, a diver, a sailor, and a teacher, in addition to some original short fiction and poetry. He wrote this book in the hopes that his grandchildren and other readers can learn from his more noteworthy experiences, so as to apply what they have learned in order to lead more fulfilling lives.
There are over 50 short stories in this book; however, it makes for a quick read because each story is only one or two pages long. Furthermore, as Reseck Jr. has led a rich and fulfilling life in the past 80 years, reading his stories gave me a better understanding of life in his time. Reseck Jr. also has a way with words, and the hours I spent reading the book certainly went by in a blink of an eye!
The best thing about Life According to Grandpa is Reseck Jr.’s sense of humour; it comes through very clearly in many of his stories and helped me to better understand him as a person. To illustrate, during his trip to McMurdo Sound – a tent city in Antarctica – as part of the first US Antarctic biological science team, Reseck Jr. and his colleagues were participating in a game of tug-of-war with a number of military units. Throughout the game, the Seabees (who were heavily muscled military men) were the undisputed champions, dragging all of their opponents through a pile of excrement (which marked the rope’s centre line). However, Reseck Jr. and his colleagues put their heads together, and with the real-life application of Newton’s laws of motion, they managed to drag the Seabees through that same pile, rendering the latter speechless and reeking. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing!
Still, no book is perfect, and Life According to Grandpa certainly has a number of flaws. Firstly, the book is organised into sections based on Reseck Jr.’s various hobbies/occupations, i.e., a section on his experiences as a diver, another on teaching, etc. The presence of structural organisation in a book is usually a positive sign; however, chronological order was sacrificed because of it. Hence, I had to figure out the timeline whenever I started reading a new short story, which detracted from the reading flow and caused some confusion.
In addition, Reseck Jr. states (in the introduction) that the purpose of his book is to impart life lessons to his readers. He does this by placing a short conclusion at the end of each story, e.g., “honesty is the best policy”. However, as the book progressed, it gradually became a written manifestation of his nostalgia for the days of old. Simply put, writing the book became a way for Reseck Jr. to relive the high points of his career and personal life. Still, I enjoyed reading these stories; nonetheless, if the book had been more consistent about achieving its purpose of providing life lessons for the younger generation, it would have made for a smoother reading experience.
Sadly, the writing contains many errors, such as erroneous punctuation and incomplete sentences, contributing to the choppy reading flow. Therefore, if half stars were permitted, I would rate John Reseck Jr.’s Life According to Grandpa 1.5 stars. However, as I cannot do so, I have decided to round the rating up to 2 out of 4 stars. This is because I trust that the polished book will greatly benefit the younger generations. In fact, I believe that reworking the book into an autobiography would eliminate the structural disorder and choppy reading flow, as well as provide a much-needed space for Reseck Jr. to address his nostalgia for the olden days. In its current form, I would recommend it to aficionados of marine biology and sailing. There is also some borderline profanity present.
Life According to Grandpa
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