Review of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The book seemed shallow while reading the first half. The story had potential but seemed lacking in the telling. Major events would occur and would be described in only a short paragraph before moving on to another major happening. It wasn’t until backstories began filling in the blanks that the book had my full attention. The author did make clever use of those backstories to eventually bring things together.
I can’t say I felt a strong attachment to any of the characters, even A. J. Some seemed more like cardboard characters than warm blooded humans. They were bit players in what became a story that drew me in and made me want to know how everything would turn out. However a great story in itself doesn’t make a great book. The picture the author draws of the story characters, the voice and actions of the characters are what makes the story to come alive in the mind of the reader. Gabrielle Zevin could have enhanced the story by more complete development and humanizing of the main characters.
That said I do recommend the book to the patient reader who will be rewarded when all the loose ends come together. I rated the story a three stars on Amazon.

 

 

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Alfred Wellnitz Published Book and Short Story Information at:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=alfred+Wellnitz&x=19&y=12

 

Distribution of Wealth

I saw the 1931 quote on Facebook and having lived in the period of the 30’s I feel I am obligated to comment.

Distribution of Wealth

The Dr. Andrea Rogers, who wrote the words below in 1931, might have been one of Herbert Hover’s advisers. We all know how that worked. It reflects how the United States handled the Great Depression up until Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933. At the time Dr. Rogers wrote those words the government of this country was in danger. Those were extraordinary times. The nation could have gone communist or autocratic per the German model. FDR did what had to be done to hold the nation and its democratic traditions together. If he had not done so it could have been the end of our nation as we and Dr. Rogers knew it. Yes people were paid to move dirt from one pile to another pile for a dollar a day and they called it work but for the most part was done to provide assistance to maintain minimal living conditions for those who needed it.

 political view

 

As Dr. Rogers points out in his paragraph, the government has to get its money from those that have it in order to give to those who desperately need it. It is called the distribution of wealth. While Dr. Rogers postulates’ that distributing of wealth from the rich citizens to poorer citizens will destroy any nation that practices such a policy, it can be argued that such a policy during the Great Depression saved the nation.

The distribution of wealth in the United States in the 1920’s was skewed heavily to the wealthy. Only recently has it approached similar levels. Is this a problem? If, for example, one individual has all of the nation’s wealth, most people would consider that a problem and the nation’s economy could not function. If one percent of the nation has 99% of the wealth, most people would also consider that to be a problem. Our economic system will break down somewhere when too much wealth is concentrated in too few hands. Sharing the wealth in an intelligent way can aid the truly needy and make the economy and lives of the nation’s people better. This doesn’t mean that wealth should be shared equally but a nation with the means to do it should not let its citizens go hungry, sleep under bridges, go without health care or be uneducated. It is the charitable thing to do and it will bolster the nations own selfish needs.

Cold War Short Short Stories

Cold War Short Short Stories (100 words or less)

By

Alfred Wellnitz

 

Navy Boot Camp, 1947

He was a Georgia cracker, a redneck. What could you expect? A nigger is a nigger and that is what he called him. Just recently the company commander had lectured about Truman’s executive order that said discrimination would no longer allowed in the armed services. Maybe the Georgia cracker didn’t believe that, but the nigger did and he picked up a bottle of ink and flung it, hit the cracker on the side of his head, knocked him dizzy. Then what happened? We never saw the cracker again and guess they told the nigger to be careful what he threw

Memphis, 1948

The bus rolls to a stop, I get on, sit right behind the driver. I, the only negro in the class, just completed a year’s training to be an aviation electronics technician at the Memphis Navy Air Training Center. Being in the top ten percent I graduated as a petty officer second class. More passengers going to Memphis get on as it moves through the training center. The bus reaches the main gate. The driver turns and looks at me, says, “You have to move to the back of the bus now.” I move to the back of the bus.

Chosen Reservoir 1950

Damn, must be twenty below, so many cloths I can’t find my pisser and I’m still freezing. Chinese everywhere, small arms fire from everywhere. It should be getting light soon and the attack should end. I hunker down in my shallow hole. My mind wanders—ponders my escape from that Dakota farm; a world to see, to experience. There is a scream, “Medic, medic!” A mortar round shakes my hole! I hold the M1 in my frozen hands. I rise up; fire my rifle into the darkness. Maybe milking cows wasn’t all that bad.

War Torn City Recovers 1950

Two American Marines recovering from wounds wander a Tokyo market, a short break from the horrors of war on the Korean Peninsula.

Tokyo bustles, factories hum; making cigarette lighters out of GI discarded beer cans, half price Leica knock offs, the world’s finest china.

Two women stand out. One; a young woman, beautiful as many young oriental women are, a face like porcelain with fine features, a tiny but full body. Beside her: an older version of herself. Both are dressed stylishly in shades of blue.

The older woman approaches the marines, “You like daughter, only 3,000 yen, all night.”

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station 1951

Four Navy Patrol planes stopped at Whidbey Island to practice some ground control approaches before flying the northern route via Alaska to Japan. In the evening two crew members visited the enlisted men’s club, noticed quite a number of unattached women. They talked to a couple of them. They said their husband’s patrol squadron had just deployed for a six month tour in the Philippines. They wanted to know if the men wanted to go into town where there were some swinging bars.Said they enjoyed these deployments but the time seemed too short.

Did You Bring Any Mail?

A navy patrol plane based in the Philippine leaves to patrol the Chines coast. Its destination is Kadina Okinawa. They carry a package of mail for the Okinawa ground crew. Off Shanghai the plane develops engine trouble. They feather one engine and as they approach Kadina their good engine begins to lose power.

It is night and violent storms envelope Kadina. Ground Control Approach shouts:You’re low, Abort!!! Impossible, the plane can only descend. Somehow the plane bounces and stops on the runway and is towed to its parking pad where a ground crew member asks, ““Did Ya bring any mail?”

 

Copyright © 2015 by Alfred Wellnitz

 

All rights reserved. No part of these short short stories may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in these short short stories are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

Cold War Short Short Stories

A collection of stories that will be part of a book of short stories is being slowly organized . Included will be a number of short short stories. Stores that are told in a hundred words or less. Included in this post are a number of short short stories that will be included that deal with early stages of the cold war.

Navy Boot Camp, 1947

He was a Georgia cracker, a redneck. What could you expect? A nigger is a nigger and that is what he called him. Just previous the company commander had lectured about Truman’s executive order that said discrimination would no longer be allowed in the armed services. Maybe the Georgia cracker didn’t believe it but the nigger did and he picked up a bottle of ink and flung it, hit the cracker on the side of his head, knocked him dizzy. Then what happened? We never saw the cracker again and guess they told the nigger to be careful what he threw

Memphis, 1948

The bus rolls to a stop, I get on, sit right behind the driver. I just completed a year’s training to be an aviation electronics technician at the Memphis Navy Air Training Center. Being in the top ten percent I graduated as a petty officer second class. The bus moves through the training center as it picks up more passengers it will take to Memphis. The bus reaches the training center main gate. The driver turns and looks at me, says, “You have to move to the back of the bus now.” I move to the back of the bus.

Chosen Reservoir 1950

Damn, must be twenty below, so many cloths I can’t find my pisser and I’m still freezing. Chinese everywhere, small arms fire from everywhere. It should be getting light soon and the attack should end. I hunker down in my shallow hole. My mind wanders—ponders my escape from that Dakota farm; a world to see, to experience. There is a scream, “Medic, medic!” A mortar round shakes my hole! I hold the M1 in my frozen hands. I rise up; fire my rifle into the darkness. Maybe milking cows wasn’t all that bad.

War Torn City Recovers 1950

Two American Marines recovering from wounds wander a Tokyo market, a short break from the horrors of war on the Korean Peninsula.

Tokyo bustles, factories hum; making cigarette lighters out of GI discarded beer cans, half price Leica knock offs, the world’s finest china.

Two women stand out. One; a young woman, beautiful as many young oriental women are, a face like porcelain with fine features, a tiny but full body. Beside her: an older version of herself. Both are dressed stylishly in shades of blue.

The older woman approaches the marines, “You like daughter, only 3,000 yen, all night.”

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station 1951

Four Navy Patrol planes stopped at Whidbey Island to practice some ground control approaches before flying the northern route via Alaska to Japan. In the evening two crew members visited the enlisted men’s club, noticed quite a number of unattached women. They talked to a couple of them. They said their husband’s patrol squadron had just deployed for a six month tour in the Philippines. Said they enjoyed these deployments but the time seemed too short. They wanted to know if the men wanted to go into town where there were some swinging bars.

Cold War Patrol 1952

A navy patrol plane off Shanghai with fourteen men aboard has engine trouble. Kadina Okinawa, their destination, is possible. They feather one engine, and as they approach Kadina their good engine begins to lose power.

It is night and violent storms envelope Kadina. Ground Control Approach shouts: You’re low, off to the right, Abort, abort!! Impossible, the plane can only descend, not ascend. Somehow the plane bounces and stops on the runway. The emergency vehicles disperse and the plane is towed to its parking pad.

A ground crew member sticks his head into a hatch. “Did Ya bring any mail?”

 

A 4 AM Dream

A 4 AM Dream

The dream took me back to an old neighborhood where we used to live. The track houses built in the 50’s and 60’s were being gentrified. Some of us original owners still lived there. Another couple, Pete and Mary Nelson were also original owners and invited us to a party at their house. It must have been a special occasion because we were wearing suits. I wore a nice suit but I didn’t like it because the coat was too long. Pete commented on my suit. He liked it. I said I didn’t.

“Why not?”

“The coat is too long, I’ll trade it for what you are wearing.”

Pete was wearing a sport coat, dark blue with grey pants, red tie, and there was food stains on the coat. He also had a big stomach and my suit wouldn’t have fit him.

Pete replied, “That is getting to be the style now, long coats.”

I thought; Is that really true?

The scene changed

I was walking along the pond in back of our house. Some fancy new homes had replaced the track homes around the pond. For some reason there was a burn barrel located near the edge of the pond. I wore the suit with the long coat. Pete and Mary Nelson came down the slope leading to the pond. They had been to church and Pete wore the same sport coat and pants he had been wearing at the party. I felt a little guilty because we went to the same church and he would have known that I hadn’t been to church. However I wore a suit and he might think I went to another church, which would have been bad because that would be like being unfaithful to our church. He had two envelopes and asked me to put them into the burn barrel.

The scene changed.

I was in an apartment, still wearing the overlong suit-coat. I was talking to a young man. Sort of a beat-nick type, horn-rimmed glasses, lots of hair, medium build, an intense personality. The young man wore a rumpled suit with a loose tie. He showed me a lighter, a cigarette or cigar lighter. He gave me one like the one he showed me, but it didn’t have any fluid in it so I couldn’t make it light.

He offered me what looked like an expensive cigar. I was a little concerned because I didn’t smoke but didn’t want to offend the man so took a cigar.

It looked like a normal cigar but had an unusual tip protector. It appeared to be something made out of bread dough. I took the tip protector off, but didn’t know what to do with it. The man pointed to a pile of the bread dough looking things and said, “You can put the nutrients over there.”

The scene shifted

 Other men appeared. They were all hippie looking intellectuals wearing suits. After a while someone started playing a piano and another person, a tall person, played a clarinet. They played some improvised jazz. The clarinet player seemed to be very talented.

I took the two envelopes out of my pocket that Pete and given me, showed them to the man that had given me the lighter. He took a lighter out of his pocket and tried to light one of the envelopes. It wouldn’t burn. He tried to light the other one. It wouldn’t burn. We knew immediately that we had come upon something that had value. A fire-proof envelope! I woke up from my dream.

Book Review of “Cold Sassy Tree”

Cold Sassy Review

Book Review Cold Sassy Tree

On a Friday night I sat down to read some of the book Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. The book club I belong to would be reviewing the book the next Wednesday morning and I planned to finish the book during the weekend. I kept reading the book that Friday night until 2:30 AM the next morning. I had become so engrossed with the story that I couldn’t stop until I had finished it. A book that does that gets five stars from me. No further evidence is needed.

Other five star features.

The author made use of the vernacular of the locality without detracting from the story line or become tiring.

The use of a town full of loony characters with numerous physical imperfections seemed to work well in a story that dwelt with some of life’s imponderables; death, religion, traditions, faithfulness, family ties, bigotry.

The first person view point of Will Tweedy provided an intimate and focused story although the author had to go through some questionable contortions to put Will Tweedy in the middle of some of the action.

All in all a good read. It will make you alternately laugh and cry and thinking this seems impossible at times and just like real life at other times. The story kept pulling you along with a number of surprises along the way. At the same time you could predict where this story had to go but you didn’t know how it would get there.

Cold Sassy could only have been written by someone familiar with the local and peculiarities of the region and its people. Olive Ann Burns qualified since she grew up on a farm near Commerce Georgia. She also had to have the literary gift that enabled her to relate the intricate details of the people and region as she did in the novel.

Cold Sassy Review