A Summer with Charlie
By Persis Granger
Reviewer Persis ("Perky") Granger: Perky is an avid reader and a writer of fiction and nonfiction, including Adirondack Gold, A Summer of Strangers and Shared Stories from Daughters of Alzheimer's: Writing a path to peace. She studied at the College of Wooster (OH) and the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), earning a BA at the latter. She later completed her Master of Science in Teaching at SUNY Plattsburgh.
She presents programs to adults and youth, and hosts writers’ retreats in New York and Florida. Learn more at www.PersisGranger.com
What do you have when you take a bunch of guys in their late teens and early twenties in the early 1960s, who pride themselves on just “hanging out” on whatever corner they aren’t chased off of in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the hometown of Richard Edward Noble? You’ve got a colorful slice of poor New England mill town Americana—the banter and blue collars, slang and girl-watching, cop-taunting, delis and diners. You have a nostalgic memoir.
Daub onto this palette a splash of craziness, as the gang – sometimes upward of twenty guys—rents a beachside cottage for the summer, with loud parties, lobster bakes, and beer, kitchen sink “fruit punch” and a back porch toilet, something akin to “Animal House.” Then you have a nostalgic, humorous memoir.
Now add in Charlie, an older pal just returned from service in the Navy. Charlie, the boys learn, has come home to die, thanks to extreme radiation exposure. Can you figure out how this affects the story? Neither could the gang. They just kept on keeping on. They pulled Charlie into the fold – the parties, the wild raunchiness, the disrespect, the laughter and crazy fun. The memoir became “A Summer with Charlie,” a nostalgic, humorous and deeply moving story of growing up.
Charlie, in his sweet, innocent way, confided to the guys that he didn’t know how to die. But during the summer he spent at the cottage with them, he showed that he knew, not only how to die, and to do so with grace and courage, but also how to live. He quietly enriched the lives of the boys who shared that time with him and taught them lessons about life and death never to be forgotten.
Noble’s writing is fresh and true. His characters and their dialogue are alive with reality. He resists the temptation to pretty things up, to trim away the ugly parts, and in so doing, creates an unforgettable story about the innocence of youth, about growing up, and about death. The author promises, “A Summer with Charlie will make you laugh. A Summer with Charlie will make you cry.” It does all of that. Moreover, A Summer with Charlie will make you remember. And think.
Other works by Richard Edward Noble include: Hobo-ing America: Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother: The Eastpointer: A Little Something: Noble Notes on Famous Folks.