Last Days of Summer
5 journalers for this 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 reads of 2005...
[Kluger's latest book, Almost Like Being in Love, is also a wonderful read. Heck, just get anything the guy writes - I plan to!]
When you receive the book, please journal it, and PM the next person in line for their address so you'll have it ready when you've finished the book.
Note: even if you've sent books to that person before, please PM them before mailing this one, to confirm that the address is correct and that they're able to take on a bookring book at this time.Try and read the book promptly - ideally, within a month of receiving it. (If you expect to take longer, you can request to be put at the end of the list. If you find you're swamped with other books when the person before you contacts you about the bookring, you can ask to be skipped, and then let me know whether you'd like to be moved down the list or dropped entirely. If you receive the book and find it's taking longer than you'd planned to get through it, I'd appreciate an update in its journal entries or on your profile, just to let me and the other participants know you haven't forgotten it.)
When you're ready to pass the book along, please make another journal entry containing your comments about the book and stating where you've sent it, and set the book's status code to "traveling". [If you find that you're having problems contacting the next person in line, or don't think you can manage to mail the book as originally agreed, please let me know; I'll be glad to try to work something out.]
Participants so far, in mailing order:
iamagirldork [New Mexico]
I'm sending this to BCer ilove in Oregon to kick off the bookray; hope you enjoy it!
I'll have this in the mail to iamagirldork today or tomorrow.
GoryDetails, thanks for sending this out as a bookray and including us newbies, it was a lot of fun!
Update: Mailed Friday afternoon, 8/11/06
I have PMed sleeptodream005 for her address and am patiently waiting her reply so I can send it on its next journey.
I adored this book. The kid is my hero. A little con artist who somehow always manages to get his way. I didn't feel that the ending was perdictable like Imagirldork thought. It was a wonderful book despite it being about Hitler.
thanks again GoryDetails