Apology for Big Rod

Charles Holdefer, Author Permanent Press (NY) $24 (160p) ISBN 978-1-877946-93-6
Set in Chicago, this spare, funny first novel is narrated by Judy Gass, the spirited offshoot of a conservative heartland family. Written after her uncle, Big Rod, dies in disgrace in a local jail, this brief, carefully colloquial apology remembers a man who acted according to the belief that life is fleeting and that happiness is the only worthwhile pursuit and the only true standard of morality. Sickly as a child, Rod suffered and witnessed death during WWII. Far from being spiritually deadened, however, he came home buoyed by the insight that ""you might as well kick back and do as you damn please in this world, since the worms are licking at your heels."" Indifferent to the disapproval of his small-minded community, Big Rod pursued a string of zany, scandalous ventures, including pro boxing and selling chocolate Jesuses, before he settled down to a job as night janitor at a mortuary. His lifestyle turns inexplicably lavish and his generosity counts to no one but Judy when the outrageous source of his affluence is revealed. Even at the end, Judy observes, Big Rod goes out with a liberating bang rather than a whimper. Using earnest, often hilarious small-town syntax, Holdefer tells the simple, memorable tale of a man who lived life as if he savored it and yet was indifferent to it, as if it were wine in a beautiful glass that would inevitably be broken. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 160 pages - 978-1-5040-2390-0
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