by G.W. Boone
77 pages, CreateSpace
Review from free advance copy by Melissa Conway
Right upfront I must confess I know the author. I know the author well enough that I designed the book cover for her, as well as for the soon-to-be-released sequel Nonsense at the Desert Rose Retirement Resort. It was my pleasure. I’ve been enjoying the Desert Rose stories for some time now and was just happy to see Mrs. Boone in print.
Mischief is a novella told in the voice of a wry, spry retired woman we are never introduced to by name, although I know for a fact our protagonist is not an author surrogate. She begins talking about her life; her pack-rat husband Otis and the couple’s sudden decision to get away from memories of the boring life they’ve lived in the house that hasn’t changed since they bought it.
In their quest to find retirement nirvana, they begin reading ads in the Sunday paper:
“The pictures were beautiful. The seniors were beautiful. They were in pools, laughing, golfing, smiling. On tennis courts smiling. All wearing smart resort wear. I asked Otis if he thought the pictures were real residents. He said no. Then I asked him if he thought they really did all those things. He said no. Well, Otis wasn’t one to chat.”
After three trips to the desert house-hunting, they finally find a place where the previous owner hadn’t died. They move in, and even though their expectations are low, life at Desert Rose still manages to become a situational irony. Just when they begin to settle into a routine of morning donut shop visits and Friday night happy hour with boxed wine, “Everything changed one particularly hot morning on the way home from the donut shop. Otis cleared his throat and dropped dead.”
Otis’ sudden death gives the Friday night crowd something new to talk about, but it leaves our heroine numb. “I missed Otis, but not as much as I thought I would.” She has to begin making decisions for herself and finds she likes it. She also finds herself lonely to the point of desperation. She begins eavesdropping from the patio on the conversations of her nearest neighbor, Loretta, who “listened to music all day and talked on the phone and took golf lessons from a tanned, blonde, sagging-kneed golf pro who was clearly past his prime.”
Thus begins a story that subtly draws the reader in to life at the rundown Desert Rose condos.
Mrs. Boone’s literary technique thumbs its nose at conventional writing and gets away with it. There is only one line of dialog in the whole book. On page 31: ‘Loretta said, “Don’t worry, I’ll get it.”’ That’s it. The rest of the prose is our narrator summing up events succinctly and amusingly. The author reveals the humor inherent in these seniors’ daily doings, successfully breaking another “rule” of modern writing, which is not to depict daily doings in the first place.
But the humorously mundane is not the only thing you’ll find at Desert Rose...listening in to other people’s conversations can get a person into trouble. After hearing what sounds like a scuffle, our heroine peeks in on Loretta and finds her dead on the floor. She’s certain Eddy the aging golf pro had something to do with it. Things begin to snowball, and I’d tell you more, but it’s a quick read and I don’t want to give too much away.
Suffice it to say, Mischief is a gentle satire, mildly poking fun at the vagaries of seniors who are portrayed as predictable caricatures, with unpredictable, hilarious results.