“Of Pigs and Meteorites” by G. Dorchak

This is billed as a book of “mildly interesting tales,” but it plays more like series of evenings on the back porch with a sack of suds, shooting the breeze with the old geezer from down the street.

The plotlines of the stories are best summed up in his own coined word, “unnoteworthy.” He doesn’t pretend to have done anything special; there is little ego evident. For example, his piece about local ghosts isn’t designed to spook us. It’s mostly concerned with explanations of what probably really happened.

The fact is, he grew up in a backwoods corner of rural America, and I suspect for most readers what he’s talking about is rather exotic in its own small way. On the other hand, I grew up in a backwoods corner of rural Canada, and I enjoyed the stories just as much, but for different reasons.

They have a ring of truth about them, while making the most of the imagination and self-conscious exaggeration of childhood. Particularly, he paints a warm and gentle picture of the family house and property and the many ways he and his siblings enjoyed them.

His lessons aren’t always pretty. His bit on his approaching death is reasoned and serious. The minute dissection of bullies and bullying is too true to be entertaining. But his theme about cruelty to those who are different plays out quickly, leaving us for most of the book looking back at his trials with rose-coloured glasses.

Unfortunately, the good life he lived in the backwoods succumbed to the pressures of marital stress and modernization. The final stories in the book have less focus and less originality. The author eases us into his modern, everyday life with modern, everyday stories, when all we want to do is stay in the backwoods.

Recommended for those who like quirky tales of the old days. And those who remember being different.

Four stars.

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