Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Living in Cleveland With the Ghost of Joseph Stalin by Marc Sercomb

Living in Cleveland with the Ghost of Joseph StalinLiving in Cleveland with the Ghost of Joseph Stalin by Marc Sercomb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A first-class ‘metaphysical romp’ with perfect pacing...

Living in Cleveland With the Ghost of Joseph Stalin by Marc Sercomb is a wonderfully written and richly descriptive novel with brilliantly drawn characters and settings. The author weaves a well-crafted supernatural jape with a generous sprinkling of irony and wit. Intriguing twists and turns ensures that this book will captivate the reader from the first page to the last. I’ve read this author before and it’s safe to say that his storylines leaves the reader spellbound. Marc Sercomb leaves the reader again mesmerized with his latest novel. From beginning to end, the author holds the reader’s interest.

The book description gives a sneak preview: ‘It’s the summer of 1953. Calvin Jefferson Coolidge is thirteen years old when the ghost of Joseph Stalin appears to him in his Aunt Evelyn’s cluttered Cleveland attic and wants to dictate his memoirs to him… “I want to tell my side of the story,” Uncle Joe tells him. “They’re giving me one year to set the record straight, so we need to get started right away.” … Calvin’s life is falling apart at the seams. He’s a misfit and loner whose only friends are famous dead people. He loves polka music and Westerns and sometimes wonders what it would be like to kiss a girl. His con man father is in Florida looking for his bipolar runaway mother. His cousin Buck is abducted and experimented on by aliens. The lady next door wants to coach him in the ways of love. His pastor thinks he’s headed straight for Hell. His English teacher thinks he’s a savant. The school psychologist wants to have him committed. His shrink thinks he’s just plain nuts. Sometimes, Calvin believes it too…’

I enjoyed the story, character development, and dialogue. There were plenty of plot twists that I didn’t see coming and that added to the book’s mystique. When I stopped reading to work, I found myself wondering what happened in the book, and replaying parts of the novel in my head to see if I could figure more out. It has been a while since I enjoyed a book this much. It’s a first-class coming of age ‘metaphysical romp’ with perfect pacing.

The contrast between tone and content is a characteristic talent of only a few authors. Sercomb pays as much attention to his sentences as he does to his plots, shifting or combining meaning with the use of a single word. His writing is impeccably honed, full of juxtapositions and qualifications that help to create a humorous atmosphere that will leave you laughing out loud. Highly recommended.

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