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Review of Matt Coleman’s A ROCKY DIVORCE

Simply brilliant and seriously funny!

Matt Coleman’s Raquel “Rocky” Champagnolle is a magnificent creation – not only a protagonist but also a highly effective anti-heroine with a sharp tongue and a rare gift of being able to judge people (fairly accurately) at first glance. Often she is surprised when she first hears someone’s name, but that does not deter her from calling them by the name she prefers, the name their parents probably should have given them. The thing with names, though, is something Coleman uses with great effect throughout the story. It offsets Rocky’s otherwise uncanny perception. She is a natural problem solver, a born detective even if she is somewhat reluctant to take on the complicated mystery underlying this story. In fact, the only reason she dives into the convoluted mess is that the town’s richest old lady calls her fat.

Rocky is a likable friend, the sort you love hanging out with even if you now you’ll probably regret some, if not a lot, of what she eggs you on to do. At one point, Coleman discusses the gravity some people have, drawing other people so close that they have no other option but to settle into orbit. Rocky is just such a star. Following her as she meanders through this absurd corner of a farcical universe is an adventure that will compel you to turn the page expectantly, wondering what snark will next erupt.

Having just finished Matt Coleman’s latest novel and regretting that there isn’t another chapter left to read, I’m glad there will be more Rocky stories forthcoming. And who knows? Maybe at some point, she might team up with Ellis or The Drew from Juggling Kittens. I mean – they do live in the same general area.

I am grateful for the privilege of receiving an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest appraisal. I have to tell you, each one of Coleman’s now three novels is strikingly different. And yet, they bear similarities beyond sharing an author. Each rests comfortably within the Grit Lit subgenre of mysteries. Each hosts a cast of memorable, quirky but relatable characters whose lives manage to spiral around at the fringes of sanity, skirting legality at times, while they try really hard to do what they feel is necessary whether anyone else feels it’s right or not. Reading one of Coleman’s books is an event I look forward to because of his amazing sense of irony and unwavering wit. I guarantee you’ll love this book every time you read it.


Odd In That Funny Kind Of Way

Before I realized that odd and funny weren’t really synonyms, my life was a lot more carefree. Whenever someone called me odd or said that anything I did was unusual I took it as a compliment. Who knew it wasn’t? And now all my friends from way back when know why I had no problem whatsoever being that kind of guy…the one who boasted of my prowess at burping and farting.

It seems that the mistake was not uncommon, though. There were an awful lot of other odd people around me. At times we congregated and everything was fine – as long as there was proper ventilation, of course.  Anyway, I felt more comfortable around the so called odd people than I ever did being around the so called cool people. What is not to like about hanging out with a bunch of guys who have contests to see who can belch the loudest or longest while others attempt to fart the Star Spangled Banner. Hitting that high note without crapping your pants is an achievement.

When we’re young we naturally want to fit in somewhere, don’t we?  And usually that is with people who share out interests. They like the same music we like and speak the same language even if it is unintelligible to outsiders. Belonging is important because being a total social outcast and loser is embarrassing to say the least. So we wind up dressing the same, hanging out at the same places and usually we like or hate the same teachers. At some point we start to realize that we have to do something to distinguish us from the crowd to succeed in life and for a few finding out what that is becomes an adventure. For the rest we integrate into larger society, another member of the seemingly mindless masses. We learn that the gift of being able to burp and/or fart at will isn’t as socially acceptable anymore as it once was.

What’s an even bigger surprise is how little importance there is to being cool once you’re int he working world. The entire objective is showing up to work on time, doing as instructed, working until your break time, returning on time from your break and working until its time to clock out and go home. That’s a large part of being an adult.

There are those things you live for. You have a spouse and kids. Maybe they adopt some of the goals you forsook in your effort to find true happiness. You come home from that thing called work, do chores, clean up a bit for dinner, hit your favorite chair or stretch out on the couch and attempt to watch whatever is on TV. Sometimes the kids need help with their homework – except that stuff never made sense while you were in school so how are you suddenly a resident expert? Is it just because you have the title of Dad? If you’re lucky you married well and your wife – aka Mom – is better at the schoolwork stuff. In fact, for a while the kids may believe Mom knows everything and Dad is around just to reach the stuff on the top shelves in the kitchen, periodically clean out the garage and do yard work on weekends. Mom does everything else, doesn’t she?

We pay some passing homage to those who somehow convinced others that they have enviable talents as musicians, actors, comedians whatever. Those were the dreamers who never gave up on their dreams. They give us songs that we hum along to as we navigate the pitfalls and sand traps of life. They bring characters to life in a fictional world that is much more interesting that our mundane lots. Sometimes they give us a moment to laugh at the absurdity of the human condition around us. Also we tend to want to know what all is going on in their lives because they turned out to be much more interesting tun us. That is pretty much how you get through the middle of your life as it blows past you measured out in workweeks and and days off. You look forward to doing nothing on your time off but that never happens. A day or two off a week is never enough.

Now that I’m on the backside of all that, my working life is winding down, my kids are adults and they are learning some of what it means to be out on their own, I realize how ill-prepared I was for being an adult. Theres no one to blame for it. I might have been my fault. I could have missed the briefing on being normal. But then, I never wanted to be normal int he first place. Being odd has its benefits too. You see, by the time we get to be my age, within a decade of retirement, the differences between self and others diminish in profound ways.

Sometimes we reconnect with people we haven’t seen for a while and they look nothing like we remember them. He was always so skinny before and look at the gut now! She used to look so sweet and innocent, what happened? There are a those few who demonstrate that they were born with superior genes or maybe they just took good care of themselves. They look almost like they used to, just a little weathered and worn. For the rest it is all about the number of changes we notice and tactfully don’t point out as we lie about how great everyone looks. Unless you’re odd and then you may mention some of the more striking changes.

That’s what a high school reunion is for, isn’t it? It’s a sobering experience for bonding with others who have survived the journey – somehow. We realize how truly insignificant the differences are between us and that maybe we were all odd in that funny kind of way.

#reunions #life #working #odd #funny