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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Whompyjawed by Mitch Cullin 
8th-Mar-2006 01:48 pm
From high school football in West Texas to Sherlock Holmes in A Slight Trick of the Mind. I need to check out Cullin's newest--he's got range, if nothing else.

Cullin, Mitch. Whompyjawed. 1999. New York: Scribner, 2001.
Summary: High school football star Willy Keeler comes of age in Claude, Texas, the process dealing with his coach's expectations re: his future, accepting a friend's homosexuality, breaking up with his girlfriend, becoming infatuated with an older woman, and coming to terms with his mother's difficult life.
Comments: Not a bad debut novel, and not as sports-ladden as I would've expected it to be. (Though, I must say, people wonder why the education sucks so bad in this part of the country--this is yet another book that makes it obvious that there are a lot of people in Texas who need to get off the football in a big way.) It had an enjoyable narrative voice and a relatively positive message about the (un)importance of teenage melodrama in comparison to what is to come as an adult. Willy is, for the most part, an agreeable character, reasonably intelligent and reasonably good-hearted. I did not appreciate the way he can't get rid of his girlfriend fast enough because she's keeping him from "being the man," and, while portrayals of women in this novel were sympathetic, they were not entirely positive. The older woman Ramona is a prostitute, and his mother is essentially giving herself to her boss. Also, I suspect, given the way that the relationship between Willy and his friends his on occasion homoerotic (and in one case actually homosexual), not to mention the author's preoccupation with male genitalia, that Cullin is gay. For what that's worth. Cullin is definitely an author to watch, and I may seek out some of his more recent endeavors.
Notes: trade paperback, 1st printing, out-of-print
Rating: 6/10 - Enjoyable coming-of-age fiction appropriate for teens and adults alike. Nothing too risky.
1st-Apr-2006 01:22 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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