Sunday, May 2, 2010

Where' My Wand?

Where’s My Wand? By Eric Poole is subtitled: One Boy’s Magical Triumph over Alienation and Shag Carpeting. This should give you some insight into the charm, wit, and pathos of this novel. There is any number of creative- kid-triumphing-over-nutty-parents-school-bullies-and teenage angst, but this one has a number of things going for it: 1) an adorably goofy protagonist, 2) a mother who irons the tongues of tennis shoes, and 3) magic!

The author/protagonist of this memoir is Eric Poole, and a more likeable kid would be hard to find. He lives in a world dominated by a mother who gives Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder a bad name. A few of her quirks: waxing the garage floor, Ajaxing the patio, alphabetizing the Christmas ornaments, and ironing the bath towels. Although Eric’s father is kind, he is totally dominated by this virago, and tries to keeps the peace at all cost. Eric and his sister live in a constant state of fear that they will either die at her hand (perhaps for walking on the freshly raked shag carpeting), or of embarrassment.

Eric is also the target of every school bully ever minted. One suspects they are actually bussing them in to make his life miserable. He is poor at sports, sensitive, good at color coordinating, and spends a lot of time on his hair. See where we are going with this? Eric is so sweetly naïve (and sternly Baptist) that he is the last to suspect that he may be gay. An hilarious “exorcism” results.

Eric’s attempt to control his world takes the form of using magic. As a fan of the TV Series “Bewitched”, Eric sees people who can actually manage life, instead of being pummeled by it. He chooses the mother on the show, Endora, as his model, partly because of her cool caftan, and partly because of her dramatic hand gestures. See where I’m going with this?

Hidden in his basement world, draped in an old bedspread, Eric practices his flourishes and his magic. And it works! Flushed with his success, Eric achieves some sense of order in his world. He is befriended by an armless girl, who literally kicks the shit out of his bullies (oh, were that a metaphor!), saved himself from some trouble at home, and learned to play the trumpet. The magic gets away from him though, when he thinks he may have given a family friend cancer, and he is eaten up with guilt.

He later realizes that the magic of his youth was in reality God’s power working through him, which gives us some delightful moments as a Royal Ambassador for Christ. He ultimately grows into the knowledge that he has the power he needs within himself, and always has.

Part of the fun of this book is all the seventies references. I had forgotten so much of the day to day minutiae of growing up in the seventies: Sun-In, Fresca, Ironing my hair, Platform shoes. I was enchanted at how innocent and fun it all seems now, regardless of the fashions.

Mr. Poole is to be congratulated on this gem of a book. I wish I could sit next to him at a dinner party. He must be a most delightful companion. I can’t wait for his next offering.

Putnam Adult
27May 2010
ISBN 9780399156557

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