At the newspaper, we receive stacks of books to review. I’m not gonna lie. I’ve had to prop my eyelids open to make my way through a few lengthy narratives that were lacking in, ahem, creativity and much needed brevity.
Our latest offering, a freshman novel entitled “Me, Boo & The Goob” worried me. That’s a weird name for a book. I dreaded that I was in for a very long, yawn-worthy afternoon. I turned to the first page while I sat in the elementary school carline and braced for boredom.
Thirty minutes later I was being screeched at by the grandma parked in front of me.
I had laughed so hard while reading the novel’s tales of misadventure that I had tears streaming down my face and my nose was subsequently draining.
In an effort to reach under the car seat and find an old napkin to wipe my messy mug with, I dropped the book, tried to grab it as it fell and instead slammed the steering wheel and accidently laid on the car horn.
If you buy any local author’s book this spring, pick up a copy of “Me, Boo & The Goob” by William L. Garner.
It’s funny. It’s light. It’s delightful. It will pull you away from whatever 21st century nonsense is bringing you down and return you to those childhood summers when the smell of fresh cut grass was your morning alarm and at the start of a sunny summer day, anything was possible.
“Me, Boo & the Goob” is Garner’s retelling of those types of stories from his childhood. There were no cell phones, summer camps or schedules. Ghosts were real. You were free to head out on your bike each day as long as you were home by supper. As an adult you couldn’t make up stories that were as much fun, or as entertaining, as what you and your friends did on those long, summer days.
The best part is, some of Garner’s tales are 100 percent true. Some only have a grain of truth. You’ll spend equal time reading and then wondering which ones actually happened.
In the first chapter, Garner knocks over a candle and burns down one of the only two houses in his tiny Arkansas town that General Grant didn’t destroy on his march through the South. As Garner writes, “If you want to piss off a whole town, just burn down a landmark and see how that works out for you.”
That one, he said, is true. From there, the stories only become more colorful and more hilarious.
The tower of footstools his brother built to dive off of like Superman? Yeah, that’s retold almost verbatim, Garner said.
The bank robber he shot in the buttocks? Kind of.
“There’s something in just about every chapter that ties back to a truth,” Garner said.
What is completely true? How ornery the young Garner was.
“Oh god. When my son was born my parents laughed and said it was payback time,” Garner said. Luckily, his son, named Catfish, went easy on his dad. When the boy wanted to run away from home and live in the alley behind a sporting goods store, Garner said the child came to him for advice on what to pack.
“We’ve been very fortunate with our kids. They’ve had fun lives and done things but nobody burned the house down,” Garner said with a laugh.
Garner said he knew the roller coaster ride of trouble he gave his parents may not have been funny when it happened, but 50 years later, it was hilarious. After a 30-year career in Information Technology Garner said he moved to Destin and became a “semi-retired nuisance.” He began writing his childhood adventures and heading up an award winning competition barbecue team.
He said he hopes parents will read his stories and remember to let their kids be kids.
“Remember they don’t have the same perspective on the world that you’ve got,” he said. “Most kids are good at heart.”