The Rambling Mann

Book reviews and occasional other thoughts from writer Richard Mann.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

When It Comes to Spooning, I'm a Fork by Mark L. Prey

When It Comes to Spooning, I'm a Fork
By Mark L. Prey
Reviewed by Richard Mann of

AUTHOR: Marc L. Prey
PUBLISHER: Motivational Press, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-62865-012-9

This book will not tell you much about spooning—or forking, for that matter.  Instead, it’s full of fun and interesting essays, written from the perspective a soon-to-be-middle-aged husband and father.   Since I recently graduated from being a middle-aged husband and father, most of what he writes about resonates clearly with me.  In fact, I share a number of the particular eccentricities he admits to. Prey has an amusing essay that goes with the book title.  He says he can’t sleep while in close body-to-body contact with his wife ("spooning"). He sleeps stiff and straight, like a fork.  Me, too.  

I'm calling the stories essays, but they are built like newspaper columns.  Mr. Prey is not as funny as Dave Barry, but then nobody is.  Prey is not trying to be outrageously funny like Dave Barry. Instead, he does a nice job of telling us about the vagaries of normal suburban life in a way that keeps you smiling, nodding in agreement, and perhaps thinking about your own life. It takes talent to do that sort of thing while addressing such world-shakingly significant matters as who gets the TV remote control, a visit to a mall Santa, fixing the lawnmower, and the like.

Other topics in the book's 39 chapters include the anomaly of his progeny not thinking Larry, Curly, and Moe are funny; the perils of a non-outdoorsman dad taking his family camping; the proper use of little yellow sticky-notes; the crucial need to avoid first-class airline travel; and the "Secret Club for Women Only."  (You'll have to get your own copy of the book to find out what that's about.)

My favorite bit is where he helped his wife try to weasel out of jury duty by suggesting answers to the preliminary questionnaire. 

Q:  Have you ever been confined in any correctional facility or prison? 

A:  No, I’ve always been able to escape.

Q:  Are you presently employed? 

A:  Yes, at the local branch of the U.S. Post Office. But I’ve been under a lot of stress recently, and I’ve had about all I can take.

I loved it!

The formula for such writing involves introducing a situation or problem, telling an amusing incident that illustrates the matter, and closing with a clever line that refers back into the body of the essay, usually in an unexpected way.  

I like to write such essays myself, but usually can't come up with decent closing lines.  If I were grading these essays in a creative writing class, most of the closing lines here would range from an A- to a C+, as would each of the stories.  The whole book would get a good solid B.

The book also includes some wonderful cartoon work.  Each chapter starts with a full-page drawing by Stephanie O’Donnell.  They are excellent drawings that illustrate the matter at hand admirably. 

So here is where I’m supposed to close this out with a clever closing line.  I told you I wasn’t very good at this….



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