Writing Book Reviews As An Author
Inspiration To Make It Easier
By: J Lenni Dorner
is for Occurrences
What occurrences caused you to read this book? Did something, or someone, specific motivate you? Perhaps you read a blog post, a book review, or were told about it by a friend.
How did you get a copy? Bought, borrowed from a friend, loaned from a library, Advanced Reader Copy possibly given in exchange for a review (ALWAYS mention if this is the case), found on the bus, given as a gift, etc. Sometimes the occurrences that led you to a book make a difference.
JEWEL BOX PARK
by J Lenni Dorner
Peanut shells crunch under my feet. I know it’s a carnival here today, but it will be a public park again tomorrow. Who will clean this mess?
“Step right up! Knock down the bottles, win a prize. Three balls for a dollar.”
Why did I come here? What about the bright lights and annoying sounds drew me out of my cool home? It’s sweltering out. The sun is sinking, yet I swear it’s getting warmer.
“How about you? Three balls for a dollar. Easy game. A child could win.”
I shake my head at the bearded man running the game. Triple braids coated in wax make his facial hair look fantastical. Costumes and make-up never did it for me. Why am I here?
“You there, Slugger! Win a bear for the lady. Step right up. Three balls for a buck.”
Cotton candy melts on the nearest bench. On pleasant days in autumn, I sit on that bench. Will someone clean it? Does the charity carnival come with mops and buckets?
“Oh, nice try. All in the wrist, you know. Two balls to go!”
I wish the library just asked me for a check. Be so much easier, so much quieter and cleaner, to pay for their renovations.
“Another miss. One ball to go!”
I nearly fall over, my ankle turning in, as someone crashes into me. A mother yells at her child to be more careful. The child ralphs on the grass beside me. As I step backward, my ankle burns. Of course I’d be injured at the carnival outside my door! I stumble back until I hit the booth.
“Strike three, you’re out. Sorry, pal. Try again? Another dollar, another three? No? How about you?”
I glance at the prize box. There are books? One I must have. I look to the bearded man.
“Something caught your eye? Ah, not just teddy bears today. Three balls for a dollar! Knock down the milk bottles, win a book.”
I had no intention of spending any money here. Wouldn’t want to encourage this carnival, lest it becomes an annual event. But one dollar wouldn’t make much difference. The prize is worth more. I shell out the cost of the balls.
I feel the first one. My fingers run over the stitching. It’s older, fraying. The ball hasn’t been cleaned between uses. How many grubby hands have clutched this thing? I set the ball down, shaking my head.
He looks at me like I’m the one wearing a tie-dye shirt under a red and white striped vest.
I pull a packet of wet wipes out of my pocket. After cleaning the next ball, I take my place. There are three stacks of milk jugs. Only one has been placed with enough care to be even. Sloppy. I hate the look of the uneven two.
The ball soars from my hand. An ugly sound smacks my ears. I turn around, only to have my nose assaulted by the smell of vomit. Blazing heat has cooked it. I want to run home.
“Very good, very good! Take your next shot. Three balls needed for the prize you want.”
What cruel joke is this? Shouldn’t hitting the jugs with one ball be enough? I have to touch another of his unwashed things?
I take out another wipe, eyeing the bearded man as I clean. How much would I pay to throw these balls at a dunk tank target? To see his wax wash away? Oh, if only! The library would be larger than the stadium thanks to my funds. I could dunk this man as the sun goes down and repeat again and again until the rooster wakes.
He doesn’t know who I am.
Peanut shells crunch under my feet as I take a step back. My ankle stings, but I’ve had worse. Sweat teases my face. Dirty, filthy, stinky sweat. I need to bathe. The milk bottles are keeping me from a cool shower.
Another burst of sound as the ball hits. Both uneven stacks are down. My ears ring. The park spins. Too many lights! I should have stayed in.
“Well-done, well-done! Just get the third and you’ll have won.”
I stare at the bottles. There’s one that isn’t quite right. Ah, so the game is rigged. My aim needs to be more to the left. I look at the ground. A puddle of soda blocks my spot.
Too much litter! Someone sneezes. I shouldn’t have left home.
More blinding lights pop on as the sun vanishes. People cheer in the distance. Someone yells about hotdogs and beer. The park reeks of pine and popcorn.
I look at the booth. How did I not see it before? Green paint. I shouldn’t be here.
“Go on now. Throw your last one. I’ve wiped it off for you.”
Monster! The Green Monster has come to call on me once more. Does the bearded man know? As he hands me the ball, does he know who I am? Has he ridden the Green Line of the T?
I shouldn’t be here. Too dirty, too bright, too loud. Just knock them down. One more time. Then I’ll go home for good. Away from the balls, the crowds, and the vicious Green Monster of that Jewel Box park.
The sound isn’t as loud as my ball collides with the target. One milk jug teeters. It isn’t meant to go down. Food for the monster, no doubt. It knows who I am. It remembers.
But the jug falls at last.
“Here, old timer. You’ve earned your pick.” The bearded man holds up the box of books. “Unless you wanted a teddy bear?”
I shake my head and take the book. “The Fear of Fenway.” A biography about me. No one fears me anymore. They’ve forgotten who I am. I thought I bought all the copies of this blasted book already to ensure it.
FCA: 984 words
JEWEL BOX PARK by J Lenni Dorner
Fenway is a jewel box park, and is the oldest active ballpark in Major League Baseball. The Green Monster is in Fenway. The Green Line of the T refers to Boston’s public transit, particularly the route one uses to reach Fenway Station. “The Fear of Fenway” is a non-existent book, as is the main character of this story.
In the Flash Fiction story above, and in an example review in Writing Book Reviews As An Author, someone wins a book by knocking down milk jugs at a carnival.
Question: What is the most unusual or interesting reason or way you’ve ever gotten a book?
— J, Co-host and Team Captain #AtoZChallenge
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