3 out of 4 stars
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What does a blind carpenter, a musician who toured with greats like the Eagles, and a Pastor for the Worldwide Church all have in common? They are all the same person: Charlie Starr, also known as Charlie Piscitello. In the book My Most Wondermous Crepen by Judi Piscitello we get to meet the quirky, engaging, and often amazing, Charlie. Charlie’s story is told by his wife and covers his life, from birth to death. It is the story of a man deeply loved, and sorely missed, by his wife. The book is titled after a term of endearment that she used for him.
We first meet Charlie and Judi when he was performing as the opening act for Blood, Sweat, & Tears and she was just one stranger in the crowd. Charlie is greeted with boos and jeers but manages to woo the crowd into submission with his “gravelly voice”, sense of humor, and rockabilly music. The crowd is, upon the completion of his performance, shocked to realize that he is blind when he is led off stage.
At the age of three it was discovered that Charlie was legally blind from a combination of cataracts and the early stages of glaucoma, but at the age of four, a traumatic eye injury led to the loss of one of his eyes, and to him being sent to a school for the blind. Although experiencing a deep sense of abandonment because he was forced to be separated from his family, it was in the school for the blind that he first developed his lifelong love for music when he found an abandoned guitar.
The author takes us through the ups and downs of Charlie’s life. His music career, his divorce from his first wife, more traumatic eye injuries and life-changing accidents, leaving the music industry, meeting his second wife, and finally becoming a Pastor for the Worldwide Church. It includes various pictures from Charlie’s life, which makes it easier to connect with the story.
There are many things that are quite delightful about this book. Most of the stories are told in a cozy, anecdotal-remember-when style. Imagine sitting around a table, coffee in hand, reminiscing about a departed dear friend and you will get the idea. Like me, I am sure you will be amazed as you read about Charlie’s handyman skills. Just try and imagine a completely blind person hammering, sawing, and building all by himself! Fully sighted people have difficulty with this!
This book is a quick read, and I did not notice any grammatical mistakes. Overall, it was an enjoyable read; however, that does not mean it was not without its problems. The writing style is meandering. Although it usually follows a rough semblance of order, it does not always. The sitting around the coffee table reminiscing style leads to sudden interjections of information that are, at times, jarring and disruptive to the narrative flow.
The author includes things like love letters, poems, writings from school, and newspaper write-ups recognizing Charlie’s achievements. While some of these add to the story and give you a deeper understanding of the relationship between Charlie and his wife Judi, there are times when it seems like too much information. I would have liked to see some judicious editing of how much of these things were included. For instance, we are given two newspaper articles, in their entirety, within a couple pages of each other. There is a lot of repeated information and it would have been better to just mention the second article, noting any additional information, rather than including the whole thing. The author was clearly deeply in love with, and proud of, her husband, and it is sweet that she would want to include so much, but she, unfortunately, loses the reader at times because of it.
The book also has a writing style that will be off-putting to some people. It is littered with phrases like: “dear reader”, “our dear brother in Christ”, and “sweet saints”. While it is expected that the biography of a pastor will include a great deal of their religious life, these phrases can come off as overly saccharine. And, as is often the case in this type of book, the writing moves from biography to teach-y/preachy on a dime. A little editing of tone would do this book wonders.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. In spite of its issues, in the end, I enjoyed the book and think that others will too. Those who dislike a deeply religious tone will probably not appreciate this book, but if you are able to overlook the flaws you will find a love story that is whimsical, and endearing.
My Most Wondermous Crepen
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