THIS WEEK’S TWO OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “COMMUNITY CATS,” BY ANNE E. BEALL AND “ONCE IT STOPS,” BY FLORENCE FOGELIN, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
THE BOOK: Grand Slams: A Coming of Eggs Story
PUBLISHED IN: 2016
THE AUTHOR: Timothy Gager
THE EDITOR: Mignon Ariel King
THE PUBLISHER: Big Table Publishing
SUMMARY: The first thing one notices in Timothy Gager’s Grand Slam: A Coming of Eggs Story is the Holden Caulfield-like anti-hero protagonist Woody. There is an ensemble of characters in the novel who make up the staff and management at a chain diner, Grand Slams, and Gager deftly weaves their backstories and inner lives into the fast-paced narrative. (Mignon Ariel King)
THE BACK STORY: Most of the low-level workers in the diner are more invested than their superiors. Keating, a nasty bastard of a boss, does as little as possible while screaming at his employees, most notably emotionally abusive toward Kayak Kenny, a developmentally challenged bus boy who fantasizes about buying a canoe. Kenny believes girls will fall in love with him if he has a canoe, swept up in the romance of floating on the pond with him. Keating floats on cocaine and a rather sleazy sex life. He sweeps women off their feet with the lure of free drugs. Sugar is the diner’s beauty; she is lusted after by every man who comes within reach of her pretty, pony-tailed, short skirt- and cowboy-booted beauty. More power to the male author who makes Sugar one of the most intelligent, focused, compassionate characters in the book. Her flaw is pathologically bad taste in men. She has a small life and thinks small, but she evolves and matures faster than her age-appropriate male interests. Sugar’s introspection leads her away from the sweaty, portly, mustard-stained tie and rumpled suit grasp of Keating. Her next conquest is a socioeconomic upgrade, Sayid, an Egyptian man who is too sexually repressed (for religious reasons) to use Sugar as a sex object. He courts her, and this is obviously something to which she is unaccustomed but which she grows to realize she deserves. Meanwhile, Woody pines for her from afar, as he did in high school, while being her platonic friend. (Mignon Ariel King)
WHY THIS TITLE: It’s a nod to the chain diner the author actually worked at.
WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Throughout the novel, the almost-adults keep the momentum going in the midst of the socially odd and borderline tragic, invested adults. How will this trio grow up while surrounded by infantile, base, or simply lost adults? The reader is invested by the third chapter in finding out.
“Absolutely Brilliant!” — Jeffrey Milleron
“Early in Grand Slams: A Coming of Eggs Story, one of the main characters, Maura, says to Woody, a new employee, “You should be grateful that Grand Slams gives you another chance in life. It saved my life.” At that very moment in this brilliant novel by Timothy Gager, he has in two sentences established the critical mass for the story. From that moment in the story, Gager introduces a colorful assortment of characters who have ended up in Grand Slams, for whatever reason, and then delves deep into their lives and personal relationships—of all who are connected to the restaurant. In many ways, the restaurant itself becomes a microcosm of life through the individual stories of these employees. Gager is brilliant the way that weaves the stories of the employees throughout the story and how each one is inextricably linked to other characters in the novel. From Maura, the veteran food server who has been with Grand Slams from the very beginning to Woody Geyser who is only working part-time during the summer, the interactions between these characters as they unfold are what makes this novel a treat to read. While reading this novel, I was reminded of that classic American cyclical novel, Winesburg, Ohio and the way that Sherwood Anderson linked the characters and their individual stories with each other. The same can be true about Grand Slams with each chapter having its own title as if each one could be a stand alone story. This is by far, Gager’s best work. He’s a writer of extraordinary talent and one we should all read.” — D. S. Atkinsonon
“I do have a soft spot for pancake house centered fiction, but I also have high standards. Gager puts together a beautiful one in this book though. It seems so realistic of that kind of place at the time that it’s funny, tense, and even tender. I cared about these people and what would happen to them as if they were really people I knew well. Very well done.” — W. Mahoney
“Having worked in a restaurant very similar to Grand Slams, I love how Mr. Gager captures the lives of those poor, struggling souls, floundering along in a nothing job yet trying to find some meaning. Mr. Gager gives us characters we come to care about, and he brings them to life with sparkling dialogue that is at once witty, engaging, and even poignant. You will laugh, enjoy, and become absorbed in this story about every day people and the stories that bond them.”
AUTHOR PROFILE: Timothy Gager is the author of thirteen books of short fiction and poetry. His latest novel, Grand Slams, (Big Table Publishing) is his second He hosts the successful Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts for over fifteen years and is the co-founder of Somerville News Writers Festival. His work appears in over 350 journals, of which ten have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has been read on National Public Radio.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I used to work at a Denny’s Restaurant while I was on my college breaks from The University of Delaware. Low and behold my main character is working at a Grand Slams Restaurant during his college break for UMASS, Amherst. The book wrote itself, based on the characters and their dysfunction—just like in the real restaurant.
“If it were any other chain I would have used their real name but because of where I worked, I knew how petty they are/were so even when being satirical, I didn’t want to take any chances of being sued for all my riches. Also, it is set in the 1980’s in the Boston area and many places that I feature in the book, no longer exist… Chi-Chi’s, Jacks, The Web Brook.”
LOCAL OUTLETS: Porter Square Books, Newtonville Books, Barnes and Noble.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon or through the publisher.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: firstname.lastname@example.org.