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Bell Hammers: The True Folk Tale of Little Egypt, Illinois

– tekijä: Lancelot Schaubert

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1231,250,646 (3.88)2



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näyttää 3/3
"Bell Hammers" traces the life of "Remmy", Wilson Remus Broganer from his childhood to end of life, through a series of anecdotes, tall tales, and dubious recollections. Remmy is a wonderful character, set on creating a happy life for himself and the other less fortunate folk. The story is set in a region in Illinois known as Little Egypt, and describes a land of hard working farmers and oil company entrepreneurs.The style of writing is reminiscent of Mark Twain, in that the author liberally uses colloquial expression and clipped sentences."Bell Hammers" is engaging, entertaining, and darn good distraction from all of the horrific COVID-19 news and statistics. Worth a look.

I received a copy of this book through The LibraryThing Early Reviewers group in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  SarahEBear | Aug 9, 2020 |
Disclosure: An electronic copy of this book was provided in exchange for review by the author, via Library Thing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is the story of Wilson Remus Broganer – “Remmy”, a man who spent his life wanting to build a Camelot and people it with Merry Men, with himself as the Robin Hood who stuck up for the little guy. And – mixed metaphor or not – that was what he spent most of his life striving to do.

Set in the southernmost part of Illinois, a region long known as “Little Egypt” because it began as a grain-growing region that supplied the northern part of the state, the story begins at a time when the glory days of farming have been subsumed by the coming of Big Oil. Texarco, the mover and the villain and the Sheriff of Nottingham to Remmy’s Robin Hood, has, in one way or another, pretty well taken over the life and livelihood of the population. In Remmy’s world, there are “people” and there are “oil people. Even though he exists uncomfortably with a foot in each camp, he is by inheritance and inclination, compelled to stick it to The Man in any way possible – from a six-year-old expressing contempt via his bladder, to an adult expressing it via one of the wildest guerilla assaults ever written. (Edward Abbey would have been proud.) Remmy’s quick mind and love for pranks will lead him astray in more ways than one, even though The Good Lord frequently tries to herd him back to the side of the angels.

Though listed as fiction, the tale is heavily based on Schaubert’s family history, liberally larded with what the author refers to as honest b*s*. There are a fair number of family stories in it that are too unlikely to be made up – the day Mamma sewed her shirt into the curtains, the day Remmy realized (too late) that chickens can’t fly, and the kinds of pranks that appeal to adolescent boys, most of them involving bodily secretions of one type or another. Though there are some stories that seem almost too set-up to be true, it’s easy to forgive them in service of the book’s underlying honesty. The anecdotes wander around through a little over 300 pages before things begin to come together and Remmy takes his stand against big-money corporations who run roughshod over the people and the land.

Schaubert uses the vernacular voice here, dangerously close to the point of self-caricature. His casual structure and the inclusion of what appear to be random bits of family history may lull the reader into thinking this is the work of a rambling amateur. Then he pulls the rug out from under those assumptions with a conclusion that soars like cathedral arches. He does let his artistry peek out near the front of the book when a character reflects that “sometimes the only way to get to the whole of a man is to listen to the songs everyone else sang about him.”

These are the songs of Remmy Broganer, chorus and verse, strung through with laughter and tears, blood and sweat, and the honest life of a working man. ( )
1 ääni LyndaInOregon | Aug 2, 2020 |
This is a very different style of novel than I have found myself reading in some time. Written as a collective story that follows the life of one Remmy Brogenar. Born in recession era Illinois, Remmy was born and raised in the shadow of big oil and coal. Defying the corrupting effects of having a town full of big oil money, Remmy finds a way to make a life in Southern Illinois. Often humorous, there is a folkloric undercurrent to the story, as Remmy’s outlook is so often painted in the shadow of his favorite fairytale, Robin Hood. Remmy marries and goes on to have children, who have children of their own, and Remmy tries to be honest through it all. He does have a wicked streak, and is known for pranks that often lead him toward trouble. Full of both humor and tragedy, I can both laugh and cry at the crazy life of Remmy Brogenar. There is a palpable anxiety in the novel surrounding the polluting nature of big oil and coal, and the willingness of these executives to destroy and pollute for profit. This fight still goes on to this day. This is a fun story to read in spite of the injustices and the tragedies that seem to run in the family. Thank you to Netgalley for the copy. ( )
1 ääni hana321 | Jun 30, 2020 |
näyttää 3/3
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