Last Days of Summer

by Steve Kluger | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780061564819 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 11/10/2020
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, November 10, 2020
I found this softcover, the 10th anniversary edition, at a local Savers thrift shop, and nabbed it for another release copy.

I'd enjoyed Kluger's earlier book, Changing Pitches, and had heard good things about this one, but even that didn't prepare me for how much I loved Last Days of Summer - what a delightful book! It's written in Kluger's trademark epistolary/scrapbook style - it's all in the form of letters, newspaper clippings, notes, and the occasional scorecard, telegram, or psychologist-session transcript - and it covers a year in the life of young Joey Margolis, who's trying to cope with being abandoned by his father (not to mention being beaten up by the kids in the Brooklyn neighborhood his mother had to move to after the breakup). This takes place in 1940-1941, and the period feel (both of the social scene and the approach of WWII) is marvelous, but it's the human interactions that make the book. Joey is a con artist extraordinaire, and has the brilliant idea of claiming friendship with a Major League baseball star as a way of keeping the neighborhood goons away from him; he writes to Charley Banks, claiming to be terminally ill and requesting a simple mention of his name at the next game, a la Babe Ruth: "This one's for Joey Margolis". Charley isn't buying it - "Last week it was the plague. Now it's malaria. What do I look - stupid to you?" - but somehow they strike up a correspondance and then a friendship.

How all this comes about is hilariously funny, punctuated with back-chat from Joey, his teachers, family, and friends, and as Charley gets more involved in the boy's life his own teammates and girlfriend chime in too. And there are so many delightful surprises - one of Joey's book reports, for example, in which he starts off saying how much he dislikes the (rather juvenile-sounding) book he's been assigned, and segues from "only a grownup who is screwy would let a kid get in trouble with crooks" to comparing the book to Mein Kampf; right after this there's a note from the principal mentioning that Joey's teacher has taken a sudden leave of absence, for which we can hardly blame her. Later on, Charley Banks has been coerced into helping Joey with some homework, and at one point suggests in a note to the principal, "Why don't you give him 'Withering Heights'? At least Heathcliff knew how to kick some ass." And in one of the report cards, Joey's teacher notes "For no just cause he has developed a particularly toxic loathing for Emily Brontë, a self-possessed and taciturn woman whom he is convinced was covertly working for a foreign government. (I suppose it serves her right for keeping the umlaut.)"

That doesn't convey the full flavor of all the exchanges here; to do that properly I'd have to quote the whole thing. It feels a lot like one of the better screwball-comedy films of the '30s, with outrageous stunts and heartwarming scenes that generally finish with a wicked quip. (Oh, and at some point you will need Kleenex. Trust me on this.) Very funny, very sweet, one of my favorite books.

[Kluger's book Almost Like Being in Love is also a wonderful read. Heck, just get anything the guy writes - I plan to!]

Released 1 mo ago (11/27/2020 UTC) at Little Free Library, New Searles Rd [OBCZ] in Nashua, New Hampshire USA


Guidelines for safely visiting and stocking Little Free Libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, from the LFL site here.

I left this book in my Little Free Library; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

Journal Entry 3 by Ghost_Dog at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, November 30, 2020
I have not read Steve Kluger, but this looks like a great place to start!

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