Your Weight and More
Rohland's simplistic, Depression-era fable proves to be more a collection of sketches than a well-developed novella. In 1935, 11-year-old Billy Baxter, who "live[s] in a small community somewhere within the Corn Belt of America," has an odd encounter that will change his life forever. Elderly Paul Alfred Perkins—also known as Pap—stops Billy outside the corner grocery store and tells the boy he used to watch him playing ball with his friends. When Billy then loses two cents to a machine that claims to predict "your weight and more," Pap gives him the money to try again. This time, the machine tells Billy his fortune. Upset by Pap's intervention, Billy's mother goes looking for the old man, only to be told Pap doesn't exist. The remainder of the book sketches the arc of Billy's life as it intersects with the predictions made by the machine. The author does himself no service by his terseness; for example, the reader is told that Billy was awarded a Bronze Star for valor without a hint as to why. In the end, what was intended as a hopeful parable makes virtually no impact.