Sunday, November 15, 2009

Books I've read this week - Eddie's Bastard

Eddie’s Bastard ©1999 by William Kowalski

ISBN: 0-06-109825-6
Harper Collins
SRP: $14.00

About the book: “Eddie’s Bastard” is William Amos Mann IV, know as Billy – the son of a heroic pilot killed in Vietnam and an unknown woman. The last in a line of proud, individualistic Irish-American men, Billy is discovered in a basket at the door of the dilapidated mansion where his bitter, hard-drinking grandfather, Thomas Mann, has exiled himself. Astonished and moved by the arrival of his unexpected progeny, Thomas sets out to raise the boy himself – on a diet of love, fried baloney and the fascinating lore of their shared heritage. Listening to his grandfather’s whiskey-tinged tales of the family’s gloriously checkered past, Billy sets out to capture the stories on paper. He is a Mann, Grandpa reminds him daily, and thus destined for greatness.

Through the tales of his ancestors, his own experiences, and the unforgettable characters who nhance and enliven his adolescence, Billy learns of bravery and cowardice, of life and death, of the heart’s capacity for love and for unremitting hatred, eventually grasping the meaning of family and history and their power to shape destiny. Steeped in imagery and threaded with lyricism, Eddie’s Bastard is a novel of discovery, of a young man’s emergence into the world and the endless possibilities it offers.”

I won this book from Katrina Stonoff’s blog, Stone Soup. When she sent the book, she included a hand-written note expressing her desire that I enjoy the book as much as she did. Well, Katrina, I truly did; thank you.

Written as a narrative by Billy, this book follows his fascinating and somewhat convoluted journey through childhood. After a serious financial mistake years before, his grandfather had become the laughing stock of the town and a recluse, slowly drinking himself to death. His wife had walked out on him and his only son had been killed in Vietnam. Thomas thought he was the last of the Mann family and he had given up. He was delighted to find Billy on his doorstep because it gave him something to live for and someone to carry on the family. As Billy grows up, he has lots to learn about his family and its relationship to the town. There are loads of secrets about the Mann family that come together in bits and pieces. I thoroughly enjoyed following along with Billy as he made his way through many difficult times in his journey to adulthood. As he searches for answers about his parentage and his family, he discovers that the past can sometimes provide very important clues to the future. It was a very enjoyable book.

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