Joe's first collection.

Postby Betsy_Boo on Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:44 pm

You know, I was just about to comment that I hadn't seen a blog entry on "Better Than Home", but I figured I should check first. Glad I did. Just in case anyone reading this hasn't checked, Joe posted one today. And it was super cool of him to allow us to read the original ending of "The Black Phone".
"We'll always have Paris."

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Postby Dana_Jean on Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:56 pm

Just finished Better Than Home. Just some random thoughts from me.

First, I think his father was so good with him because I think dad had his own similar issues. For instance, when they went to the school to look around. Dad's focus was on the texture and smell of things. He couldn't pay attention to the business side of it. Dad could just relate better to Homer because they were cut from the same cloth. Home, for them, really was the ballpark. They felt the most at ease there.

Dad was set off easily at the games--you could say typical coach tantrums--but maybe a root cause was something similar to when his boy "goes off" on Aunt Mandy. They both suffered from Sensory overload and had to let it out.

Second, Aunt Mandy--well, I relate everything to my experiences and my feelings--it's how I process information. And Joe writes about Mandy on page 123:

"What Aunt Mandy would say about it is that she's still trying to figure out what it is she's supposed to be. What my father would say is Mandy is wrong if she thinks the question hasn't been answered yet--she already is the person she was always sure to become."

When I read this, my heart sank because I really took that personally. I saw myself starring back from that observation and it made me sad.*sigh*

When they cross paths with the guy in the tunnel, Who's perception was right? Was he dead or just sleeping off a drunk? I would think Homer was more atuned to the smell of something wrong, and Aunt Mandy was the typical adult with blinders on.

Third, I think mom was understanding of him, but, well--she's a mom. Moms have to be the practical ones and keep the household moving along and generally are the ones to make the tough decisions in regards to the status quo. I think she pretty well treated him as normal.

And finally, I just loved this description:

"He wears a filthy baseball cap--Our Team's cap, once dark blue, but now faded almost white around the rim where it is blotched by dried salts left by old sweats...

This story made me feel lonely.

MY THOUGHTS ARE A little disjointed, but there ya go. (I thought I better add that on. The story wasn't the disjointed one.)
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Postby meridith on Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:30 pm

DanaJean I had the exact same thoughts about the dad being similar to his son!!!
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Postby meridith on Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:38 pm

This really seems like it could be a true story.....poor kid!

about the dead guy in the covered bridge....I figure the aunt probably didnt' believe the boy that he was actually dead.The whole fly thing crawling in the dead guys mouth.....ew......the boy probably didn't figure she would even listen.....the poor kid just freaked out and she makes it worse by not understanding that his reaction is part of how he communicates. She instead reacts to him, giving him sensory overload....

the only one that could relate was his father......they could just be together in peace. Almost a zen kind of thing....

somewhat a little off topic but still related, I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't like the taste of fish LOL! and I don't eat pork or beef either! Ha ha. I was a vegetarian for about 5 years, I eat chicken occasionally now. more for ethical reasons than the fear of rotted meat, although there's a book out there called "Beyond Beef" among many others that detail the meat industry and the nastyness of what is in the meat.....
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Postby Mr._Hex on Mon Jan 07, 2008 12:50 pm

Better Than Home was certainly... interesting. I don't feel like it really went anywhere, but it was a charming and introspective story about a child's relationship with his father, and I found it rather uplifting in a somber kind of way.

~ Hex
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Postby KingoftheHill on Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:44 pm

I did enjoy the story. Starting off with the dad's rant on the baseball field was hilarious! Being a baseball fan, I love to watch epic meltdowns. :twisted:

Homer (hmmm, a play on "Home") was great. I love when an author's not afraid to throw something like OCD or a similar affliction. The scene in the hotel room with the dad was priceless. Dads are supposed to be heros like that.

Dana, the statement dad made about Aunt Mandy does strike home to those of us that are "a little long in the tooth." That said, there's nothing wrong with being who you are, as long as you're happy. :)

I really thought the dead body would turn into something more.The fly was classic "yech" writing! Loved it!

All in all, it was a great story. As Hex really didn't go anywhere, but it was nice. Like Pop Art, it's Joe on a mellow side.

I think I'll look for the chapbook now. :)

Living easy, living free, season ticket on a one way ride... - Bon Scott

The changes somehow frighten me, still I have to smile. It turns me on to think of growing old. - John Denver
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