Reviews

Recall, Retention, Recognition

JILL MANDRAKE

I’m inclined to refer to False Memories and Other Likely Tales (New Orphic Publishers) as a Baby Boom biography. With chapter titles like “Remedial Reading,” “Gravel Pit” and “American Model,” there may be no other way to describe Ernest Hekkanen’s compelling non-fiction narrative. Some may appreciate this memoir because Hekkanen suggests in his preface a lively, interactive game that can be played with each of the chapters. And many of his insights have stood the test of time. In “Remedial Reading,” for example, the author’s first-hand take on dyslexia can be helpful for today’s special needs educators. When his tutor asks Mike (the narrator) why he turns his head from side to side when trying to read, Mike replies: “Because I need a running start to get over the gap in the middle of the page.” Mike then discloses how he cured his learning disability; a convoluted cure involving a trip to the garbage dump. I won’t go into details and spoil the mystery. Speaking of mystery, all Hekkanen’s chapters include solving a mystery; in some cases, a grisly one. In “Gravel Pit,” the narrator’s mother confronts him about prying into a neighbour’s shady business: “Marg told me the police were questioning her at the bowling alley. Apparently, some kid around your age showed them a copy of The Bowling News, and they were checking to see if the Alley Cats had anything to do with Mrs. Rimple’s death.” The narrator’s reply gets him grounded for two weeks, although he does manage to track down a killer. If you string together all the chapters of False Memories, they’re very much like watching a Hardy Boys serial, but only if the serial were directed by David Lynch (as in “a town where nothing is as it seems, and everyone has something to hide.”) Don’t miss it.

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JILL MANDRAKE

Jill Mandrake writes strange but true stories and leads Sister DJ’s Radio Band, featuring rhythm and blues covers, post-vaudeville original tunes and occasional comedy bits. https://hido.bandcamp.com/album/the-neti-pot

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