On New York's Long Island, in the unpredictable decade of the 1960s, a young boy spends much of his free time in the basement of his family's modest home, where he and his brother, Jim, have created Botch Town, a detailed cardboard replica of their community, complete with figurines representing friends and neighbors. Their little sister, Mary, smokes cigarettes, speaks in other voices, inhabits alternate personas... and, unbeknownst to her siblings, moves around the inanimate clay residents.
There is a strangeness in the air as disappearances, deaths, spectral sightings, and the arrival of a sinister man in a long white car mark this unforgettable shadow year. But strangest of all is the inescapable fact that all these troubling occurrences directly correspond to the changes little Mary has made to the miniature town in their basement.
©2008 Jeffrey Ford (P)2010 Audible, Inc
World Fantasy Award, Best Novel, 2009
"Surreal, unsettling, and more than a little weird. Ford has a rare gift for evoking mood with just a few well-chosen words and for creating living, breathing characters with only a few lines of dialogue. Give this one to readers who appreciate the blending of literary fiction, fantasy, and mystery." (Booklist)
"Kevin T. Collins... has an astonishing range of voices at his command. His excellent narration definitely added to my reading enjoyment and I’ll be looking for his name in the future." (Fantasy Literature)
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A charming coming-of-age tale about the 6th grade year of an average American boy growing up in the 1960s. This year isn???t average, though, because there are some strange things going on in his small town. As he navigates his way around mundane matters such as an alcoholic manic depressive mother, a father who holds down three jobs, live-in grandparents, and unpleasant teachers, he???s also concerned with a prowler, a classmate who disappeared, and a strange suspicious man who drives an eerie white car. Things get really creepy when he realizes that the weird things happening around town seem to be linked to the way his possibly-autistic / possibly-savant little sister moves the cars and people around in his older brother???s replica of their town which he works on in their basement.
The novel reminds me very much of A Christmas Story ??? that classic movie about Ralphie who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas ("You'll shoot your eye out!"). Similarly, Jeffrey Ford fills his story with over-the-top characters who are fun to read about but who you???re glad you don???t live with and who you have a hard time believing could all co-exist in the same small town.
Also similarly, most of the plot revolves around the day to day events in a 6th grade boy???s life: waiting for the ice cream man, trying to complete school assignments with a minimal amount of effort, getting picked on by older kids, skipping church, sneaking out of the house, and trying to keep up with his brave and reckless older brother. These little slices of life are funny, poignant, and so beautifully and vividly described that they often brought a smile to my face and occasionally brought tears to my eyes.
Kevin T. Collins who has an astonishing range of voices at his command. His excellent narration definitely added to my reading enjoyment and I???ll be looking for his name in the future.
This book was such a great find. It mixed mystery, the supernatural, along with an itimate view of close knit family suburan life. I can't recomend this book enough. Great from start to finish with never a dull moment.
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