Auntie Doris’s Book Club #5: Gotta Find a Home” by Dennis Cardiff

imageI enjoy reading Dennis’s stories on the WordPress. Not that what he writes are exactly stories. They are all true. The people who he writes about actually exist, on the streets in his home town, in Canada, and he actually does spend his dinner breaks as well as time on his way to and from work having conversations with them, and helping them out. Even though they are all alcoholics and drug addicts and most of them have been in and out of prison for thieving and violence and stuff like that. That’s part of what makes their stories so interesting. Most people would walk straight past them and try and avoid eye contact not many would hand over any money, and fewer still would get into conversation with them.

But Dennis does. At first I thought that he was one of those born again Christians. But when I read his book I found out that he is more interested in Buddhism and Eastern Philosophy, and that is what has led him to taking an interest in these people. But it’s more than just an interest. You can tell from his writing that he really likes them, and really wants to help them be seen in a positive and dignified light.
I started to like them a bit too, through his book, even though I would probably give them a wide berth and leave the talking to Dennis. After reading about them I might be more tempted to give them a few shillings, or something to eat. Dennis makes you see the good side of them, how they are just like everybody else, only less well off and with a few more serious problems, and how they help each other out when things are difficult.

I quite liked Joy, although I wouldn’t want to rub her up the wrong way, or she might be tempted to smash my face in, and the blokes that she hangs around with like Hippo, and Andre, and Shakes, and Chuck and Little Jake, all have their endearing qualities, even though I wouldn’t like to bump into any of them down a dark Alley.

Maybe the most interesting character of all is Dennis himself. But he doesn’t let you see much of him. I particularly liked the part where he smoked a little bit of pot, just so he didn’t look out of place, and he started to admire the long, grey hair of the man who gave him it. You wouldn’t have got me smoking that stuff, but I might have been tempted by a glass of sherry. I wouldn’t have had him gawping at my hair though. I’d have kept my rollers in and my headscarf on.

Any road, you can get Dennis’s book off Amazon if you want, (and probably other places too) and any money it earns will go towards helping the homeless people that Dennis knows. Which is useful, as it saves you flying out to Canada and giving them it yourselves, and risking being tempted by pot or sherry, or running the risk of getting your face smashed in.
I’m certainly looking forward to part two coming out.

Auntie Doris’s Book Club #1: Dream Brother by Brian Marggraf



Brian decided to follow me on WordPress the other week. That was nice of him. I am always flattered by things like that. But increasingly a bit suspicious too. Paranoid maybe. Why are they following me? What is their motive? I am just a dead old lady. I have no money, I’m no oil painting. Maybe they want to sell me something? A set of encyclopaedias? A get rich quick business scheme? Jesus? Or maybe they have another agenda. Perhaps they just want me to read their writing. In Brian’s case it was a bit of both. He wanted me to buy his writing, and then read it.

Well. seeing as how his novel is available for 99 cents, or 99 pence on Amazon (until May 1st) I got my nephew Michael to buy me it. And then I read it. Here’s what I thought:
Firstly it’s an American novel. I don’t usually go for American stuff. There’s enough of that on the ruddy telly. Waving ruddy guns around and driving on the wrong side of the road. But there aren’t any guns in “Dream Brother” and Brian cleverly never mentions which side of the road his characters are driving on. So that’s ok. In fact, if you substituted Hull for San Fransico, and Liverpool for New York, and maybe, Hebden Bridge for Laramie, you could just about imagine it was set in England.
Jacob, the hero of the novel is a filthy so and so though. He has carnal relations with at least three women in the story, smokes methylated crystals, is disrespectful to his parents and probably breaks every single one of the Ten Commandments into the bargain ( if you can call making a statue out of stolen toys “worshipping a graven image” that is ) I didn’t like him one bit.
It was interesting reading about what happened to him though. When he finds out that he should have been a twin, but his brother Sean got strangled before he was born, it sends him a bit doollalley, and probably even nastier than he was in the first place. Then again, you would have to be pretty nasty to go reading your mother’s old diary, wouldn’t you. And people who go poking about where they have no business, shouldn’t be surprised if they find stuff out that they don’t like.
Later on, some ruddy filthy stuff about what happened to him when he was a little boy is revealed. But I’m not sure if that’s a good enough excuse for him to carry on like he does either. There’s plenty of children go through hard times who turn out to be upstanding members of Society. Perhaps Brian should read some Catherine Cookson or Barbara Taylor Bradford, to give him some ideas for his next novel.
I could have done with a happier ending. Maybe seen him settle down with a nice woman, had a couple of kids and make the effort to bring them up better than he had been brought up. But Brian seems determined to take a more pessimistic view of things. I think it’s what the Americans call “hard assed gritty realism” or something.
Any road, it kept me entertained for a couple of hours, so if you have a spare 99 of whatever coinage you use, you could do worse than invest it in Brian’s book.
You can find his WordPress blog, Indie Hero, which will tell you all about his book in his own words, and gives tips and information to people who are thinking about self publishing here.
You can find a very short piece I wrote about twins a few months ago here.