by Alan Brennert, St. Martins Press, April 2012
...a bit of a disappointment
The author has written a homage to Palisades Amusement Park. We meet the central character Eddie Stopka at Palisades at the age of eleven in 1922. The story is primarily built around Eddie and his family. They are a goofy bunch. His wife Adele is a frustrated stage actress, his daughter Toni is a fledgling high diver and his son Jack is a dreamer. Eddie and Adele run a french fry stand at the park. The narrative introduces all kinds of carnival performers - fat ladies, magicians, acrobats and high divers. There is a wealth of detail about carnivals and their entertainers.
The action (and there is not much of it) includes scenes from the Great Depression, World War II, Korea and the civil rights movement. All of this with the amusement park as the continuing backdrop. The story concludes with the park’s closing in 1971.
While I enjoyed this story it was far from riveting. I found the characters oddly one dimensional. No matter what was happening to them, they seemed to have no emotion that was discernible and the dialogue was at times painful. I am sure those who grew up going to this amusement park will love this book, the detail sure to trigger many memories.
Following the author’s last book Molokai, which was excellent, this was a bit of a disappointment for me.
I read a copy of this book provided by the publisher.