My Dog Tim and Other Stories is an anthology of Garasamo Maccagnone’s finest works. The anchor of this collection is “St. John of the Midfield”. With newly added scenes, “St. John of the Midfield” is an almost mystical story of Bobo Stoikov, one of the world’s greatest soccer players, who escapes death in communist Bulgaria to find the American Dream. Due to severe injury during Bobo’s escape, he is unable to play once he arrives in America. Though he finds peace and happiness in simply coaching soccer to youth travel teams, his eccentric ways of teaching and his success lead to a hate-filled rivalry, and eventually, his death.
Other stories in the anthology include: “My Dog Tim”, an ode to the author’s beloved childhood pet; “White Fang”, a tale of revenge that has more do with orthodontia than Jack London’s infamous dog story; “The Note Giver”, the story of a mysterious old man who arrives at St. Isidore’s and turns the congregation upside down by handing out notes that sting the individuals with truth and insight on their own bad ways; “White Chocolate”, “Goalie Boy”, and three vignettes
I read the anchor story, "St. John of the Midfield" and decided I was not the person to review this. One thing I just don't want to do is trash someone's work. Authors spend incredible amounts of time coaxing a story onto paper or a computer screen. Their time and effort is valuable.
But my other conscience prevailed. The reader's time is valuable, too.
I was warned there was strong language in this book. If you know my reviews at all, I will let you know if the language is distracting or inappropriate. The language is too strong for my tastes however, that fact didn't register as the top few reasons I didn't like the story.
I thought the story was completely pointless, the protagonist unlikeable, and the story never really reaching a conclusion. Basically, the protagonist tells the story first person. He's the father of a kid who is gifted in soccer. The kid's coach's name is Bobo who escaped a communist country on a train with his brother, physically damaging both of them so they could never play pro. Bobo takes care of his brother and coaches for the love of coaching. One guy makes allegations and ruins Bobo.
In the meantime, the protagonist is cheating on his wife with some soccer mom who really wants her son to play but can't afford the club fees. Bobo gets pushed to the background as the protagonist's bad behavior is explored. And for some reason I can't quite connect, the protagonist is actually the good guy of the family because the rest of the family is smuggling drugs into the country while the good boy is running the legitimate business.
The story ends with a crescendo and then, like the author ran out of steam or just didn't like the story, it ends. Kind of like my sophomore English teacher warned us to not do for a creative writing class. He said, "Don't set up such an elaborate story, get tired and end suddenly with 'and then they all die.'"
In all fairness, I didn't read the rest of the short stories. As far as I know, they could have been fabulous. There could have also been some marvelous symbolism that I'm just too shallow to comprehend.
This book was given to me to read as an Advanced Reader's Copy by Pump Up Your Books.
No reason to apologize. My wife doesn't like St. John of the Midfield." But she also admits to reading nothing but shallow romances.
You could have noted, that the book has received many 5 star ratings, especially from people like Cheryl, at PUYB, Rambles Fiction reviews, Page One Literary review, Apex Reviews, as well as amazon reviewers.
It's silly to admit, as a reviewer, that you don't like certain type of language in a book. If that's the case, don't review books. Leave your religious or moral bias out of the critiquing process. (I do it all the time)
Did you ever consider that your High School English teacher was a fool? Obviously, he never read Hamlet or The Great Gatsby. Based on what he taught you, Billy Shakespeare and Scotty Fitzgerald both ran out of gas.
I realize St. John of the Midfield is not for everyone. Still, it's done very well with critics and readers and it certainly deserved to be published.
I am glad the book has received higher marks than I gave it. I am glad it appeals to other readers. I'm just one reviewer. Regardless of Gary's comments and others' reviews, I feel the same way I did when I wrote the review. I even wrote it with the understanding the author might read it. I am not critical of the author, just the anchor story.
My thanks to Gary for stopping by to add his opinion of my review.