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Caretaker of Lorne Field Paperback – October 19, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Zeltserman's superb mix of humor and horror focuses on Jack Durkin, the ninth generation of firstborn sons in his family who have daily weeded Lorne Field to purge it of Aukowies, bloodthirsty plants that could overrun the world in weeks if not attended to. Though Jack takes his job seriously, no one else does: his oldest son doesn't want to follow in his footsteps; his wife is tired of living poorly on his caretaker's salary; and the townspeople who subsidize him are increasingly skeptical of purported menaces that no one has ever seen because Jack diligently nips them in the bud. With his support dwindling, Jack finds himself driven to desperate measures to prove that he's truly saving the world. Zeltserman (Pariah) orchestrates events perfectly, making it impossible to tell if Jack is genuinely humankind's unsung hero or merely the latest descendant of a family of superstitious loonies. Readers will keep turning the pages to see how the ambiguous plot resolves. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This superbly crafted horror story explores the dichotomy between belief and rationality. Why has a small town maintained a contract since the eighteenth century with a member of the community and his heirs to pull weeds in Lorne Field? Jack Durkin, the current and ninth generation of Lorne Field caretakers, says the things he pulls from the ground aren't weeds; they are something called Aukowies, and if they're not pulled up by the roots and burned every day, the world will end. Under pressure from his wife to get a real job; from the town fathers (looking to save a few bucks and end the contract); and from his sons, who don't see themselves as career weed-pullers, Durkin is finally out of a job. No more weed pulling. So is he just a nut case, or does the novel segue into another Little Shop of Horrors? Sorry, we don't do spoilers. Horror fans will have to read this first-class cautionary tale themselves. --Elliott Swanson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
Unlike some other readers, I did not find the "constant" weeding tiresome. I didn't feel it dragged the book down. I felt sad for the caretaker, of how he was treated by his hometown neighbors, his back-breaking work, his flippant family, and all the other sad-sack events that occurred in his life. I imagined how I would feel if I were in his shoes, but throughout the book, my mind went where the author wanted it to go, and it was a great ride. I listened to the book through TTS, and it was an easy listen, well formatted so the TTS engine paused where intended at the commas and periods, which for many books somehow becomes haphazard.
I felt the book maybe could have been a little longer for the price. This seemed to me to be a novella, not a complete paperback-sized manuscript. However, if the book had been just mediocre to good, I would have been much more upset. The Caretaker of Lorne Field was excellent in my opinion. The Caretaker came alive for me, he was someone I knew. And I don't think I will ever forget him :)
This was definitely worth the download, and for me, was very much worth the read. Thanks for the great story!
Jack Durkin has a great responsibility. Every day until first frost, he must weed Lorne Field in its entirety, purging it of Aukowies, bloodthirsty plants that could overrun the world in weeks if not attended to. He is the ninth generation of Durkins to serve as caretaker; the eldest son of each generation has been contracted with since 1710. In exchange, the caretaker gets an $8,000 annual salary and he and his family can live rent-free in a cottage. And in the early days of Jack's tenure as caretaker, the town's business owners understood the sacrifices Jack made to save them all, and they donated free goods and services to his family.
But times have changed. Most of the people in the town don't understand what the Aukowies are and don't believe that weeds could pose a threat. Jack's wife, Lydia, is tired of living hand-to-mouth. His oldest son, Lester, who is destined to become the next caretaker, wants nothing to do with it and is tired of his family being the butt of jokes throughout the community. As the pressures of family and community bear down on him, Jack is determined more than ever to prove the Aukowies are real and that his job should be taken seriously.
The idea behind this story was very unique and compelling. What I found intriguing is that at one point in the book, I wasn't really sure whether the Aukowies were real or whether Jack and his family had all bought into some kind of hysterical fantasy. I became a little frustrated with the endless amount of pain and suffering that Zeltserman inflicted upon Jack, and I felt that many of the supporting characters were very stereotypical, but in the end, I couldn't stop reading, because I really wanted to know how everything would be wrapped up. This could be an interesting movie.
Very Simple Premise: Jack Durkin is the 9th generation of Durkin men who for about 300 years have been contractually obligated to pull weeds from Lorne Field, located in a small New England town. Legend has it that unless Durkin carefully pulls these weeds out daily from spring until the first frost they will within days grow into deadly creatures called the Aukowies, who will consume the entire world. After all its in his contract. Only a few elderly people of the town still actually believe Durkin is literally saving the world every day. Durkin's wife is fed up with him, his eldest son Lester who's the next in line as the Caretaker doesn't believe him and most of the town think Jack maybe scamming them. But Durkin is sure that the world's fate is in his hands.
So what actually happens if Durkin doesn't tend to Lorne Field? Is he an unappreciated savior of the world or just a crazy old loon pulling weeds everyday? Zeltserman's searing hot prose ratchets up the tension, and throws in some clues that keeps you guessing until the very end. It also has one of the most perfect endings... in fact it couldn't have ended any other way.
C'mon, you want to know what the deal is with those weeds? This is a great fast paced read. Strongly recommended.
One of the finest examples of fine literature I've read. Should be taught in classrooms from coast to coast. This is great fable-making on the order of Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Jackson's The Lottery and the Hemmingway's Old Man and the Sea.
I'd say more but I'm a bit stunned by the thing. Instant favorite.
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