2 out of 4 stars
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Pain plays a myriad of roles in the human experience, and it shows up in numerous ways. Heartache can be full of life lessons, while depicting physical pain has been a convention of comedy for countless generations. In his memoir, Caca Pasa: Historias de un Hombre Viejo (An Old Man’s Stories), author J E Ted Thayer recounts events of his life, tying them together with a universal subject: pain.
The brief and various accounts in this memoir range from comical to disturbing, from commonplace to poignant. Thayer relates his down-to-earth stories with humor, charm, and candor. The writing style is both old-fashioned and contemporary, appropriate for a memoir spanning the author’s childhood to his senior years. As the book travels through different decades, it gives the reader diverse, nostalgic slices of Americana.
The author includes his family, friends, peers, coworkers, and even his pets in his accounts. There is some grisly material, substance use, and graphic medical information, but the author keeps it to a minimum. He has a tendency to veer away from his topics at times. Yet, he often acknowledges when he has digressed and returns to the subject at hand.
In some of the stories, however, pain is only a minor or passing theme. Also, here and there, I did not catch any reference or impression of pain at all. Some of the accounts seem to lack a particular sense of direction. Hence, there may be points where the author is simply reminiscing about his past.
On a more technical note, the memoir would benefit from professional editing. The author admits to his “strange punctuation and odd phrasing” in the Preface. Still, the writing ultimately suffers from the number of errors and inconsistencies throughout the book. Some of the dialogue runs together, instead of having separate paragraphs for each speaker, and there are many capitalization mistakes. The author sometimes writes out the time of day incorrectly, such as “2:00 o’clock.” He frequently hyphenates words that do not require hyphens, such as “week-end,” “our-selves,” and “no-where.” The vast overuse of hyphens may be the book’s most distracting practical weakness.
Even with its flaws, this memoir is transparent, relatable, and full of personality. Therefore, I give Caca Pasa: Historias de un Hombre Viejo a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. I’d recommend it to memoir fans who can enjoy casual reading, despite the errors. Whether or not the author intends to pursue commercial publication, thorough editing would help the book to appeal to a wider audience.
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