Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Savage's Main Character Pulls Readers In Whether They Want To or Not!

 The New Alfred Hitchcock PresentsImage via Wikipedia
More With Cal 
and Uncle Bill


W. Jack Savage




I have never had more of a turnaround in starting and ending a book as I did with More with Cal and Uncle Bill. Even the title was, in my opinion, strange--and the cover? I even thought I found the outline of Alfred Hitchcock's profile as we used to see it on TV under all the scribbling... As I began to read, I kept thinking, "What a schmuck the main character is!"

More With Cal and Uncle BillAnd then there was the writing. It was unique, strange, and hard to follow given that subjects were switched quickly and almost all of it was written like a, yes, it was written like a diary, a journal, with a sporadic display of dialog. But, then, after all, the character, Cal, admitted to being third-generation trailer trash and an ex-con as well.

Still... I began to realize that the character Cal was a special man...maybe a "Forrest Gump" because as a reader you just have to slow down to read and to follow the story. But about that time, which was nearing the end of the first chapter, when he meets Claire, that I realized that I wanted to continue to read just to find out what would happen next...

You see Claire began the series of events that would make Alfred Hitchcock himself turn over in his grave! Let's just start when Cal comes home and finds Claire dying. Uncle Bill, by the way, is an ex-cop so there was much discussion about what to do about having a dead body in an ex-con's bedroom. And, if I begin to write like I'm telling the story, you'll begin to understand the way the book is written...

So anyway, Uncle Bill and Cal get rid of the body, but that really doesn't solve anything, because Cal just seems to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It seems his life moves from one adventure to another, and lots of time, somebody is saved from death, or somebody dies, or more often, Cal gets beat up. And Cal begins to be looked upon as a hero...

In between those times, we discover that Cal received his associates degree in prison and he's now taking classes for his bachelor's. When he got out of prison, he had taken a nighttime job so that he could get back into a routine of working, and so he's oftentimes stopping for a beer after work. Readers have no idea they are being pulled little by little into Cal's life so that you just have to keep reading and learning more and more. Soon you are thinking this is a really nice guy, who deserves to catch a break and you're hoping he finds a girlfriend too!

Well he does...but he does it by saving her life...and then later she saves his life... But he breaks it off...So goes Cal's life...

Remember Claire, well...things get really tense because her body was never found and yet, a man who had found God had admitted to her murder and revealed where he had left her. Of course, we later find he was dead weeks later. And that the corruption just might be within the police department. And, yes, Cal seems to be the guy who figures out the sordid story.

Fortunately, Cal gains some credibility here and there--like with a FBI agent, and a publisher at a newspaper who is willing to write Cal's stories "as they are written." You guessed it, Cal's unique writing, which is really like his writing in his journal, is gaining a following and he's even offered a book deal (which leads to another attempt on his life, but that's another chapter...)

No, I didn't keep considering Cal was a jerk. But he did have a personality which evolved from his early years that made him that guy you routinely pass on the street and have no memory that you did. In creating the character, I must admit I still wonder what Jack Savage planned. Was Cal true to Jack's goal, or did Cal take over and become the character that he himself wanted to become. I know I've read when authors say this happens, but could never image what they meant. With Cal, I think I can. In his quiet ways, he moved forward in his life, gaining a reputation as a writer, a teacher, and a family man. Surely, no author could have just created a character with a third generation trailer trash, ex-con background, to become what Cal ultimately became...

If you like to laugh a little, cry a little, peek into somebody's intimate life by reading their diary, and question the "possibility" of what more can happen in one person's life, I highly recommend you consider More With Cal and Uncle Bill... You know what? I'm even wondering whether there will be indeed More From Cal and Uncle Bill in the future...

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