- File Size: 737 KB
- Print Length: 262 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Crossroad Press; Crossroad Press Digital Edition edition (May 31, 2014)
- Publication Date: May 31, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00KP17YOE
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,105,552 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$14.99|
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The Merry-Go-Round Man Kindle Edition
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|Length: 262 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top customer reviews
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Coming of age is usually interpreted as an awakening, and often focuses on a male losing his virginity. This is also part of the story, but the author spreads it much wider, and over the first twenty years of the boys’ lives. So the story actually implies wider experiences and reminds of the adage:” When I was a child, .… I thought like spoke like a child….but when I became a man…. etc., etc.
The author draws his characters from his own experiences and those of his growing-up friends. Whatever poetic license he may have taken, he was able to mix their experiences and emotions into a warm and wonderful story that tells of their actions, inter-connectedness; their separate ways; parental relationships; and how their boyhood shenanigans provided the name for the book – ‘The Merry-Go-Round Man’. Actually, I understand the merry-go-round as a metaphor for the boys’ lives, to me, a quite clever one. The author also nicely integrates social issues of the times - the Cold War; communism; nuclear war, etc.
I was enamored with the story and its telling, and found myself eagerly following the experiences of the three boys. My other big interest in the book lies in the several ‘points to ponder’ that arose. For this, I recommend the book to all readers, including parents. I enumerate a few of them below: [indicates reference in the book]*
1. Life is like a merry-go-round offering you ups and downs, operating in mysterious ways. You face it by “giving it a try”. [I see this not as the merry-go-round’ but your own merry-o-round’. Lee got to the top of the physical merry-go-round, but each boy had to go to the top of his own merry-go-round (awareness/transformation) alone. Lee advises us to do this ‘with “hope”].
2. And what mysteries there are? Contraries abound. [Jimmy is saved by the man he has robbed; Johnny is assisted by Jimmie’s father. Parentally, he leaves home and returns to confidently face his father whose denigrations he suffered throughout; Lee, the ‘ladies man’, finds his senses through a new fear of a now-adult ex-teacher he adored in school (met his match).]
3. Be careful of the ‘friends’ you choose. Some can lead you into temptation, but they cannot deliver you from evil. [as Jimmie found out].
4. “Every man (woman; child) has his own burden”. Jimmie and Johnny have an interesting exchange over this idea, each interpreting according to his experiences and beliefs. Johnny’s was his father. But because burdens influence behavior, and at some time they must be faced in order to get to the top of the m-g-r. I often represent this in the sentence: to “Every man to his own disorder” – [the life he himself (like Jimmie and Johnny) must live and reach the point where they now know “where they are headed”.]
We all see things differently, so you yourself can find more of these, along with a wonderful story.
In any case: superbly well-written, and I’m a hard reader to please in terms of technical polish. Beautiful construction, incredibly immersive narrative, smoothly flowing dialogue, a plot that keeps the reader on their toes without giving them whiplash, all coming together to form a stunning whole.
There are books that I read and shake my head because I think I could do better (including my own sometimes, alas!), and there are books that I read and am dismayed because they make me wonder what I’m doing writing books when there is such talent out and about. But, ultimately, they inspire me, I guess. Anyway, enough about the book’s impact on me! I think you’ll love it.
I do try to include a little positive and negative in each review I write, but some books make it a little more difficult to do one or the other. In this case… The title is a little weak? Honestly, I’m struggling to find a criticism here. Over to you, fellow reader.
The reader is introduced to three interestingly different protagonists who are close grade school friends growing up in the 1950’s. Johnny is relatively large for his age, appearing soft but with huge hands that seemingly are not suited to his desire to draw, but an activity for which he appears to be quite adept. Jimmy is an agile young black, son of a one-time #5 ranked heavyweight boxer. Lee exhibits all of the qualities of an athlete. Johnny’s father is a frustrated rabbinical scholar who found it necessary to enter real estate to support his family. Thus, he demands that his son concentrate upon becoming a Rabbi. Jimmy’s father, suffered an unexpected and devastating defeat after which he descended into drinking and little productive activity. Lee’s father left at a very early age with never an explanation from his mother. The actual plot begins when the three compete to see who can get to the top of the school yard’s merry-go-round with the stated prize being the one who succeeds is the person who will be the top achiever. There follows specific details of the lives of the three as they mature. Johnny is disowned by his father and with Jimmy’s father as manager, becomes a Golden Gloves Finalist only to kill his opponent in the finals. Tremendously shaken, he bounces around in odd jobs including finally doing portraits as a member of a travelling Carnival. Jimmy, against his better judgement, is ‘talked into’ attempting to rob a local merchant. It fails, he runs and is caught by a ricocheting slug from police, ending in a coma in the hospital. Lee becomes the school’s star end, a ‘ladies’ man, with numerous offers from colleges, but an ultimate jolt to his beliefs and chosen way of life. Finally, the three again meet with a return to their original neighborhood and the thought is set forth that each might find a path that may lead to an acceptable stop for their personal merry-go-round.
The author has presented characters with enough ‘fleshing-out’ to be most appealing in situations with resulting activities that evoke many considerations not the least of these is that every man has his burdens. To quote the author: “Maybe you’re right. Maybe there are no easy answers and we all pay a price, one way or another.” AND thus: The merry-go-round goes round and round. Where it stops, nobody knows.