Received a copy of Calves in the Mud Room by Jerome O. Brown through the First Reads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review "Visions of Glory Schoonover - student council secretary, Spud
Festival Princess; her juicy fruit lips, dark chocolate eyes,
honey-streaked corn silk hair with the chamomile-lavender scent;
the thick, eroticism syrup of her Emeraude perfume; the sling of
the slinky, burning-pink thong panties clinging to the soft band
of baby fat that rides the low-cut, hip-hugging, crotch-squirming,
tight-ass-affirming jeans all disappear, vanish the instant the
truck lights sweep through the pin streaks of snow and gunmetal
fog and land on the smoke blobs of rump roast, rib eyes, t-bones,
tenderloins, flank strips, hot dogs and moo-burger piling up at
the gate and blocking Wade Summers' way.
Stupid cows. Stand in cow shit all day cows."
All Wade Summers wants to do is take his beautifully-popular, amazingly-smart, top of the pyramid, next-level rich dream girl Glory Schoonover to the upcoming Valentines Day Dance. The crazy thing is, is that, of all things, she asked him, but why? All Wade does is work hard on the farm which limits his out of school social time and when he does show up to school he occasionally smells like a cow's behind. Unfortunately for Wade, where he's from the punch line garners no laughs and in fact is his reality. Wade can not justify the reasoning in his mind as to why she would ask him, but this opportunity won't come around again so he decides to go all in. A clean car to drive to the dance, check, a tailored Italian wool suit, check, juniper berry bath gels and oils, check, an Orchid for Glory because Mums are too generic, check. With all of this in the bag what could possibly hold him back from getting lucky tonight? As the old saying goes don't count your chickens before they're hatched, (lucky for Wade he has no chickens in the roost). Now only if he could get some assistance from his precocious half-brother and sister Jay Ray and Dot, his absentee mother, bigot stepfather Dwain, and the pregnant heifer laying out back in the grass. If he could control these external factors it could make his night out with Glory a glorious one.
Wade is a really well-mannered young man. Given his familial circumstances one would expect him to fall in line with his "guardians" example by denying any and all of life's responsibilities, indiscriminate abuse of alcohol and the achievement of lower education. Despite wavering at times in his teenage years like all young people should, with the help of his one and only true role model, Wade ultimately stays true to himself and would have made his grandfather proud. As multi-faceted as Wade is I would comfortably describe/label Wade as a consciouncious girly man farmboy. Wade's a pretty curious cat and to me he has developed his strong character from dealing with inner city problems in conjunction with being raised by a grandpa that instilled down home country side ideals. These principles rear their ugly head during the time of the dance at an all to inauspicious time. Growing up in the city I went to school with quite a few people who lived in the "sticks" and was amazed at how they seemed to be socially impeded by it. No parties, must catch the bus after school, and farm priorities; it was hard to hang out with them unless you were able to make your way up there. In that respect I really felt for Wade and his big city dreams colliding with the beckoning of the farmland and all of its inhabitants, be it four legged or two legged.
This novella was very well written with great, vivid and illustrated descriptions of the calving process; I would personally like to thank the author for that. This is most definitely a coming-of-age story and at times was very reflective of that genre and some of the reasons why I dislike it. In particular during the dance section of the story I found myself going "blah blah blah blah blah" with all of the typical hysterics of teenage drama queens and stock high school characters. Fortunately, the writing of the author and the story of Wade kept pulling me in. I would recommend this short story to anyone that enjoys a unique story told in a unique way with a unique style. "He makes a place for the calf next to the other one.
He thinks of them as angels.
They have such a power about them. Such stillness, such silence,
such complete and uncorrupted innocence. The perfectly formed
hooves, tiny ears, little noses. Their watery black eyes wide open,
all-knowing. The stare of eternity. Their miracle interrupted.
There has to be more to life than ground round. Any life."