Nancy Heck's Reviews > The Boys of My Youth

The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard
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Feb 02, 12

Read in December, 2011

Jo Ann Beard delivers some remarkably good writing , be it memoir or fiction (I'm not sure which). For example:

"In addition to Linda and me, there's a brother, a strange little guy named Bradley, obsessed with his own cowboy boots. He paces areound and around the house, staring at his feet and humming the G. I. Joe song from the television commmercial. He is the ringleader of a neighborhood gang of tiny boys, four-year olds, who throw dirt and beat each other with sticks all day long. In the evenings he comes to dinner with an imaginary friend named Charcoal.
'Charcoal really needs a bath', my mother says, spooning Spaghettios onto his plate. His hands are perfectly clean right up to the wrists and the center of his face is cleared so we can see what he looks like. The rest of him is dirt."
-from the chapter entitled "The Family Hour".

Beard's world is also inhabited by an alcoholic father, a chain-smoking mother, and, (besides the boys of her youth) the men of her middle aged life. It's written in a series of stand-alone short stories which create a cohesive narrative of a life lived on the edges of affectionate humor and gritty gloom.

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