Boomers and Bullies
In The Death of Fernie: The Best Little Book Ever Written About Real Little Boys in the 1950s, critically acclaimed author Daniel Altieri has turned his attentions to something completely different - a foray into an East Coast childhood of the Eisenhower era. The Death of Fernie is a free-spirited tale with special resonance for the postwar generation, who grew up in that time of imagination and awakening. It's written mainly from the point of view of the boys, preadolescents in the scary post-grammar-school world. A tale of bullies and abuse, of rich flights of imagination and reflection, when phones dialed, there were three channels on TV, and flying saucers hovered everywhere.
It's 1958 in rural Connecticut, and three boys between 10 and 11 years old - Tommy (from a stable, "normal" family), Jose (Hispanic, Catholic), and Jimmy (underfed child of a poor, single, alcoholic mother, has a severely retarded sister) - have been pals since first grade. But it's September, and the safe, cozy innocence of elementary school is behind them. Now they must enter the scary, new world of junior high school. In their small New England mill town, every kid from whatever side of the tracks goes to this same big school: kids from green-lawned houses where mothers put clear plastic on the lampshades and carpets, kids from houses where dilapidated sofas and car parts clutter the sagging porches and sumac-overgrown yards - it doesn't matter; they all get tossed together in a survival-of-the-fittest way. It's a hard time for our three pals. And it's about to get harder.
Daniel Altieri is the coauthor of several international best sellers: The Court of the Lion, Iron Empress, and Shangri-La: The Return to the World of Lost Horizon.
©2015 Daniel Altieri (P)2015 Redwood Audiobooks
The book brought back my own memories of growing up. The story pulls you along a nostalgic trail but with the foreshadowing of menace all around at the same time
A bit of J.D. Salinger combined with a dash of Hemmingway's Nick Adams stories.
The reading brings the book alive as you hear the characters speaking and feel the tension in the action.
Jose. He seems more sensitive, somehow less street smart, but very wise underneath all that.
I liked the audible book so much that I went ahead and purchased a paper copy on Amazon.
The author has really captured what it was like to be a young boy in the 50s. The story draws you in from start to finish, and the narrator definitely does the story justice. A great read!
Wonderful. Could listen to him all day.
laughed and cried - that's what growing up is
There was a wonderful sense of being there with these children. A distance that disappeared between listener and performer and performer and writer... a sense of
immediacy that only some great and descriptive and poetic writing can achieve. There was also a softness yet emotional range and power in this narrator's delivery. And it was
also the flow, the sheer sense of movement from one day to the next--the passage of time as it came through the pages of this little book.
Truman Capote's Other Voices Other Rooms and a little bit like Flannery O'Connor's incredible recreation of the gruff characters and voices in all her works.
The narrator's emotional range and sense of the experience on the pages before him.
I really liked his treatment of the epilogue--a sadness and melancholy that came through; and I Ioved the short story Frankie. I felt this guy, too, but indirectly. Not as much as I felt Jimmy's unspoken misery and the narrator's portrayal of Fernie's wretched and painful existence in the novel.
Jimmy-- he came through in so few remarks; and the dialogue created a picture of this little boy who wanted and needed so much more. Like the epilogue asked what would become of this bright little fellow . And the sadness and tragedy of seeing all his quirky knowledge and misguided adventure swatted away in the parking lot.
MAKE A MOVIE-- it's definitely time for another STAND BY ME... and this time with even
younger kids and their imaginations.
Alive and Real!
When the three little boys follow the sirens and flashes to the bottom of the mountain and realize the extent of the change that has come to their world. I am not going to give anything away. And you can't make me.
He has an amazing gift for storytelling. Picking out the slightest change in emotion or
mood in the tale with the shifts in his voice, always subtle and almost imperceptible until you begin to feel what he is recreating for us.
Looking through the binoculars as Fernie rushes out of his house and hearing him over the distance.
Real shades of Twain and Harper Lee. Very sad and very funny. Immensely moving little book.
I was born a little later and grew up in a big city. My parents were overprotective, so I never got to roam free like the kids in this story. And certainly I never played hooky and spent the day in the woods or climbing mountains. So this was a vicarious taste of what I missed. And wow, it was so real. I never knew a guy like Fernie, but now I do.
I think it's when Tommy knows he's free. Don't want to spoil it, but there's a moment of deep honesty Tommy experiences in the privacy of his head that you only get from really good writing.
This was my first.
JJimmy. Poor hungry Jimmy.
Nostalgia for a boyhood I never had.
A great listen!
I suppose it was Tommy as I had the most in common with him growing up. I grew up in California and am a bit younger than Tommy(I went to Junior High in the mid '60s) but I felt an affinity for his "normalcy".
Anything to do with overcoming bullies always gets my attention, so I suppose I would start there.
It made me laugh and it made me feel emotional. I love friendships of seemingly different kinds of people, so Death of Fernie hits you on those levels too. You can't help but relate.
I have enjoyed Daniel Altieri's works up till now a lot. For example The Court of the Lion is a real page turner. Fernie is completely different but the author's skills as a story teller are equally on display. I liked listening to Fernie and thinking about the 1950s in Connecticut as opposed to imagining Ancient China while reading. A different, but equally compelling experience.
Trip in time
To Kill a Mockingbird
I laughed, cried and got angry!!!Mostly I just imagined how my own life was reflected in the story.
Rekindling memories of my own life and experiences when I was the same age! The details are vivid and descriptive in a way that conjures long forgotten memories of events long forgotten!
I like the way the story, though it centers around a group of preadolescent boys, gives a glimpse of the lives of the mostly working-class grownups--parents, teachers, cops, etc.--all around them.
Definitely Jimmy. a miniature tragic hero.
Have not had the previous pleasure.
You can't help but feel sad for Fernie.
Kids... you gotta love 'em, right? This audiobook in Mr. Lomakayu's hands (well, vocal cords and emotions) is one tremendous listen. It's both funny and sad, sounds like the old neighborhood. Talk about being transported--Scotty and Kirk haven't got anything on this travel in time. I really felt I knew these characters, the good the bad and the ugly, which poor Fernie appears to be, right down to his dirty shirt, empty lunchbag, beaten face and half pack of cigarettes. This book nails it all. I grew up around the same time, when kids roamed free and got into all kinds of scrapes and adventures, and not so far from this rural Connecticut setting, in upstate NY, so I should know. I can just about smell the air. Classic stuff, and and a must-read for the Google generation that may have spent their entire childhoods indoors and missed it all...
Definitely. It's an ideal story for listening, because the language is so evocative and descriptive.
The human complexity of it. It's a timeless story of bullying (among other things), but the author has seen to it that we, the readers (listener, in this case), get a taste of the bully's private pain, and experience paradoxical pangs of sympathy for him. This is grownup stuff, skillfully presented in a story about little boys.
I haven't. This was my first.
Tommy, the narrator and main POV, is the one we get to know best, and he is on a steep learning curve as he comes of age in this story. But then there's Fernie himself, truly a "lost boy," of the sort all of us have known: Born unlucky, never had a break, short life, gone...
The author has skillfully woven in a parallel story of sorts in the form of excerpts from sensational pulp science fiction novels of the era, shoplifted by Tommy and his pals, making them hard-won treasures to be savored. There's soaring escapism in these outer-space tales, and plenty of sly humor as well. The contrast between the preposterous adventures of scientists and astronauts light-years from earth and way in the future contrasts wonderfully with the completely real 1950s Connecticut small-town life of this band of boys. There's another character in this book, not even human, which figures prominently. That's all I'm going to tell you!
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