2013; 226 pages. New Author? : Yes. Genre : Literary Fantasy; Humor. Overall Rating : 6*/10.
Eberhardt Walker’s life has taken a turn for the weird. First there was that near-miss accident in the intersection. Which was followed by the stealing of a car with a 92-year-old partner-in-crime by the name of Irene. And hiding out at her place, which turned into a more permanent arrangement.
But what really took the cake was meeting Irene’s roommates, all 25+ of them. Each one has issues and they're are all just so unreal.
Or are they?
What’s To Like...
You’ll meet a slew of literary characters in The 92-Year-Old Lady Who Made Me Steal A Dead Man’s Car, most of which are from the classics. So if you’re into authors like Jane Austen or Ernest Hemingway you’ll probably enjoy this book. If highbrow literature is not your shtick (and I fall into that category), then the good news is that not knowing anything about these characters isn’t much of a drawback. Outside of the literary peeps June and Pursewarden, the only folks you need to keep track of are Eberhardt (who’s the narrator of the story) and Irene.
Apart from the opening car-theft sequence, there’s not a lot of action or tension in the storyline. Even the fire and the arrests are rather tame affairs. There was a nice nod to Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish writer that I happen to like. And Fred Schafer pays an extended tribute to Ernest Hemingway, who killed himself in Ketchum, Idaho.
There is a handy literature reference table at the end of the story, which will match up the literary characters with their authors/books. If we assume this is Fred Schafer’s personal book list, he has interesting and varied reading tastes. There are some adult situations and cussing in the book, but I thought it fit in quite nicely.
The ending is nice, trite, surprising, logically obvious, and well-crafted, all at the same time. This is a standalone novel, and I’m betting it’s a one-and-done. However, if Fred Schafer decides to send Eberhardt and Irene journeying into the literary dimension(s), something that this books cirs out for, a sequel could be developed.
The 92-Year-Old Lady Who Made Me Steal A Dead Man’s Car sells for $2.99 at Amazon. Fred Schafer has a poopload of other e-books available, mostly non-fiction motivational books. They also go for $2.99.
It was on a Sunday evening that she said to me, “We have reached a fork in the road. What do you think, should we explore both directions?”
“You one direction, and I the other?” I asked just to be sure I understood her correctly.
“I shall miss you,” I said.
“No, you won’t.” (loc. 127)
“Lots of paper,” he added. “In the world where I come from you could store all these books on a little chip the size of a finger nail.”
“But you couldn’t smell them,” Irene commented.
“Good point,” the pastor replied. Then, after a few seconds he asked, “Why would you like to smell them?”
“That’s also a good point,” the old lady replied. “But don’t worry about it. I don’t think I could explain it to you.” (loc. 699)
“Arguing, chatting, and drinking whiskey with Hemingway, heck, why shouldn’t you have felt happy!” (loc. 899)
The 92-Year-Old Lady Who Made Me Steal A Dead Man’s Car has two significant drawbacks. The first is the book’s genre, which changes several times as the plotline moves along. It starts out as an tale of action-intrigue. But then it seemed like the author wrote himself into a corner, so he switched to a quasi-fantasy tale, with a host of literary characters coming to life in the story. Frankly, this was the best part of the tale. But after a while, it morphs into an existential discourse, which was both boring and a bunch of verbal twaddle. If you don’t believe me, ask Eberhardt.
Then there’s the humor itself. The Amazon page hypes The 92-Year-Old-etc. as a work of “Humor-Satire”, with the subcategory being ”Humorous” just in case you didn’t figure it out the first time. There is some wit, but there’s also a lot of unfunny stuff. Our protagonist is a self-appointed vigilante who mutilates and murders rapists by cutting off their …er… members. Is there some reason why this qualifies as “humorous”? Ditto for the driver/owner of the commandeered car who gets smashed to smithereens in the roadway, thus providing a convenient means of transportation for our two protagonists.
I kept waiting for Fred Schafer to somehow work the vigilante and vehicular manslaughter angles into the main storyline, but it never happened. Overall, this would’ve been a much better story without the Action and Philosophizing.
6 Stars. The best part of The 92-Year-Old Lady Who Made Me Steal A Dead Man’s Car is the middle, “literary-fantasy” genre. But even this is not original. If you want to read a better treatment of this, check out Jasper Fforde’s “Thursday Next” series, the first book of which is reviewed here.