A thin line separates oddity from craziness! Spooner is a young boy and later man who follows the dictates of his thoughts and feelings, albeit with very few of the latter, in a knee-jerk manner that threatens not only other human beings but sometimes even his own life. Imagine sneaking into your neighbor’s house, putting the father’s shoes in the fridge after urinating thoroughly and evenly in both shoes. Meditating on that deed thrills Spooner and is the origin of an increasingly strange pattern. Expelled for showing how sexually stimulated the kindergarten teacher makes him, Spooner is not one iota embarrassed but just sorry he won’t get to again smell the exciting shampoo in her hair.
It turns out Spooner is a phenomenal baseball player, but one who refuses to be trained or modify his pitches based on his coach’s instructions. So Spooner eventually loses a major league opportunity and thereafter moves through innumerable jobs, always rebelling and moving onto the next adventure. He finally seems to find his forte in journalism but lacks the emotional connection with the victims of the stories he covers. Ultimately he finds his calling in being a country novelist in Texas. What brought him to this point? His stepfather, Calmer Otosson, stands by him and always arrives in the nick of time before disaster’s irrevocable curse hits Spooner. Both share a propensity to violence, yet it is Calmer whose influence finally quiets Spooner into realizing there is another way to deal with conflict.
Pete Dexter writes superbly about the tensions and thrills of the late 1980s in a broad span of America, including Georgia, Florida, Texas, Puget Sound and other locations reflecting Southern devil-may-care individualism in a world insisting on conformity. Humor and pathos pervade these pages of brilliant writing. Pete Dexter previously received the National Book Award for his earlier novel, Paris Trout.