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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Literary
  • Language:English
  • Pages:249
  • eBook ISBN:9781620952917


A Boy and His Dog Survive the Great Depression

by Grant Flint

Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available
Waggles – short summary for e-book “Waggles" is a Depression-era coming-of-age story set in dust bowl Nebraska, told by the award-winning author, 83, who was there. He shares his saga of life on his grandmother's farm in the 1930s, the gritty daily stench and grind of a poor widow’s farm, the awe and power of the seasons as seen through the wondering eyes of a rural boy, who survives through the love of his dog, Waggles. From his smothering mother who expects young Grant to fill his dead father's shoes, to the brutal older boys who force him to confront the violent yet sensual nature of farm life, and the stolid salt-of-the-earth grandmother who steals the story, we are carried through a gripping tale that is equal parts terror, lush period detail, pathos and hilarity. In the end we learn what it means to be a young man shaped by a desperate time. Most readers in Recession-age America can relate. And gain inspiration. “Waggles,” 56,000 words, contrasts sharply with other Depression memoirs. It reads more like “Angela’s Ashes” than “Little Heathens.” The Depression is realistically portrayed: foreclosure phobia, blizzards, tornadoes, hand-made tombstones, the madness of poverty. It is not a paean to sentimentality. (Most of the book’s chapters have been individually published in literary journals.)
The fatherless boy, Harry, on his grandmother’s dirty little Nebraska farm during the Great Depression and dust storms, 1930’s, wants to escape east to the big cities – Omaha, Chicago, New York City, Paris. His 14-year-old uncle torments him, pretending to be a snake ghost; his smothering mother tells him they will leave “later;” his hardened grandmother shoots down chicken hawks with a six-gun, wrings chicken’s heads, doctors herself and the farm animals with raw Lysol capsules, is tortured by Mr. Fenner, the banker, who periodically threatens to foreclose on the farm, and sits near the back door at the Holy Roller church, shouting “Amen!” as the women roll, orgasm, down the purple carpet. Harry’s mother and grandmother construct a tombstone for his dead grandfather. His aunt’s family comes from deep in the sand hills to beg for food, the older boys forcefully remove Harry and his girl cousin’s clothes in the barn hay loft, the mother finds out, runs screaming down the dirt road, the dogs chasing after her… But Harry has Waggles, given to him as a puppy when his father died. Waggles is everything to him, understands, is always there, makes it possible to survive the filth, the flies on butchered pig meat hanging on the corn crib, the stinking outhouse, the screams of the castrated pigs, the cyclones, dust storms, blizzards, floods… But then Waggles is run over. At last Harry and his mother escape to town as World War ll starts, Harry is forced to plant a half acre “Victory Garden,” suffers erections standing in the front row of the church choir, is given his dead father’s shoes, trumpet, gold watch, and tennis racket by his mother who now expects him to become everything his father could have been. Harry nearly loses his virginity in a vacant barn with Mershon and Colleen, becomes a football player against his mother’s wishes, is determined to master his own destiny, go to the big cities. But remembers his best friend, Waggles, her death, the loss of innocence, the rest of his life.
About the author
Grant Flint has appeared in Story Quarterly, The Nation, The King’s English, Poetry, Weber, Amelia, Slow Trains, Common Ties, and 37 other print and online journals. He was memoir winner in the 2007 "Soul Making Literary Contest," and appeared in the 2007 "Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition Collection". He was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. More importantly, he is 83, does stand-up comedy, improvises jazz on the keyboard, is currently dating seven women in the personal ads, and is modest like all boys born in Nebraska.