Bootstrap Press (2008)
Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (1/09)
Several years ago C&C Music Factory had a hit song entitled “Things That Make You Go Hmmm.” That is exactly the feeling I experienced after reading “Rancho Weirdo” by Laura Chester. This book is a collection of short stories that seem to have nothing to do with each other. There was no lesson or moral I could find. I could not tell what statement, if any, the author was trying to make. Some of the stories seemed to resemble poetry but others were just ramblings of the storyteller. Frankly, I just did not get it.
Finally, I went to the author’s website to see if there was any information about this book because there is nothing in the book or on the back cover explaining what type of work this is. Here is what I found:
“Life on the U.S./Mexican border presents a clash of cultures and expectations that is explored with insight and dark humor in Laura Chester’s new collection of short stories,…[that] challenge our perceptions of the new Southwest—which includes snowbirds, illegal immigrants, Native Americans, ranchers, and cowboys—whose fates intertwine in the harsh and beautiful Arizona landscape.” I did see a recurrence of the Mexican theme, but otherwise I did not have a clue.
The artwork was strange and somewhat juvenile and often did not appear to have anything to do with the story. Many of the illustrations were of people and animals but I honestly could not tell what some items in the pictures were supposed to be.
The one story I liked is entitled “Bye-Ya Con Dios” – but I did not like it not because of the story it told. I enjoyed how it employed words that students learn in vocabulary lessons that are often underutilized. As someone who believes if a word exists, it should be known by all, I appreciated the inclusion of such material.
Although I did not enjoy or understand this book, many individuals who have a different sense of humor, or are deeper thinkers than I, may appreciate “Rancho Weirdo” by Laura Chester. I do not mean to steer people away from this book – I just believe they should be aware of the content.