Author Jerome O Brown provided me with a copy of his book, Calves in the Mudroom, in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I’m not particularly a fan of novellas. Much like short stories, I feel I can’t get a handle on the characters or their lives and thoughts in such a short format. Nevertheless, I agreed to take a look at first-time author Jerome O Brown’s novella, Calves in the Mudroom. The title alone caught my interest. I was glad I took the time, because I think it’s a great first effort for Mr. Brown.
Wade Summers is a high school-aged boy, part of an incredibly dysfunctional family that includes an alcoholic, self-absorbed mother and her abusive boyfriend. Until recently Wade lived a relatively happy life anchored by his grandfather. Upon his grandfather’s death, he is pretty much on his own.
Calves in the Mudroom tells the story of a day or so in Wade’s life, when all he wants is to be a perfectly normal teenager, which includes taking the most popular girl in school to prom. Unfortunately, events beyond his control bring about a different sort of night and provide the reader with a vivid picture of what life is like under such dire living circumstances.
Brown’s prose is stark and blatantly gloomy. Calves in the Mudroom isn’t an easy read. It isn’t supposed to be. But Brown’s descriptive narrative provides the reader with a clear picture of what life is like when roles are reversed and the child and parent exchange places.
If I have any criticism of Brown’s first effort, it’s that he tries a bit too hard with his descriptions. Having said that, I also feel that he provided such clear images that I could picture the events as clearly as a movie. I could smell and see Wade’s surroundings.
I frankly hope that Brown continues his writing and hones his skills because I would definitely like to sink my teeth into a novel with the slight (very slight) tinge of Kent Haruf.
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