Thursday, February 23, 2012

Train Wreckard 1-14 By Dennis Sheehan

A BagelBards Second Look Book Review

“Track Wreckard 1-14”

By Denis Sheehan

Bone Print Press, No price listed

Reviewed 2/13/12, Re-reviewed 2/20/12 by Paul Steven Stone

If it wasn’t a pun, I’d say here’s one for the books! How often does one write a book review one week, then come back the next week with an entirely different interpretation of what he read, and what the author achieved?

For me, this is the first time.

I felt pretty confident when I wrote my original review that the author had taken the easy way out in writing his book (novel, memoir?) by merely writing up 14 consecutive evenings spent in a local Rockland bar. His refusal to edit his writings, or even correct misspellings, made it seem like a labor of lassitude and, here’s the trap, a reflection of blue collar antipathy to the requirements of white collar literature. I’m afraid I wrote my review accordingly.

After all, if Denis Sheehan was going to force me to read about him sitting at a local bar night after night and get stinking drunk half the time, without even crafting his presentation, then I was going to call him out (always politely, of course) for his laziness, his lack of literary focus and, of course, for his obvious inattention to MY needs as an experienced reader with high literary standards.

It was only the next day after I submitted my review, when I was working on a new novel in which I play serious games with the reader’s status as a fly on the wall, that I realized what games Denis Sheehan had been attempting with his book, and that I had fallen into his trap.

If I can steal from my earlier review of Track Wreckard, I wrote…“Aside from developing a drinking problem, or feeling like I did, reading the book did an excellent job of replicating the boredom and pointlessness of a life spent without challenges or significant interests.”

I had hit a bullseye and didn’t even know it. For now I see that Track Wreckard is totally about conveying the blue collar grind of nightly visits to the Pub and daily penance paid at whatever form of grueling employment fueled the author’s need for nightly oblivion. Far from creating a novel that focused on sharing those short ups and deep downs in any literary sense, Denis Sheehan chose to dunk the reader almost bodily in the boredom, repetition, small glories and minor triumphs of his life. Unedited, uninterrupted by literary pretension or Spellcheck, unapologetically served out across 14 evenings of his life!

I apologize to Denis Sheehan for first reviewing his book from my point of view, which caused me to miss how well he had hit the mark from his point of view. By taking exception to the fact that most of the writing was done when the author was half- or wholly-in-the-bag, and not prettied up afterwards, I missed or misinterpreted the author’s ingenuousness in sharing himself and his world when they were at their most vulnerable and unattractive. Rather than accept my immersion in his world, I complained and wished for a world and a protagonist more attune to my tastes.

Whether you’re looking for a non-violent drinking companion or some insight into a world strangely close but ineffably distant, “Train Wreckard 1-14” might be just the cocktail for you.

Don’t be surprised if you find, as I did, that it merits a second sip.

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