Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review: "The Caretaker of Lorne Field" by Dave Zeltserman

What a strange and bleak little book this was.

Jack Durkin has a great responsibility. Every day until first frost, he must weed Lorne Field in its entirety, purging it of Aukowies, bloodthirsty plants that could overrun the world in weeks if not attended to. He is the ninth generation of Durkins to serve as caretaker; the eldest son of each generation has been contracted with since 1710. In exchange, the caretaker gets an $8,000 annual salary and he and his family can live rent-free in a cottage. And in the early days of Jack's tenure as caretaker, the town's business owners understood the sacrifices Jack made to save them all, and they donated free goods and services to his family.

But times have changed. Most of the people in the town don't understand what the Aukowies are and don't believe that weeds could pose a threat. Jack's wife, Lydia, is tired of living hand-to-mouth. His oldest son, Lester, who is destined to become the next caretaker, wants nothing to do with it and is tired of his family being the butt of jokes throughout the community. As the pressures of family and community bear down on him, Jack is determined more than ever to prove the Aukowies are real and that his job should be taken seriously.

The idea behind this story was very unique and compelling. What I found intriguing is that at one point in the book, I wasn't really sure whether the Aukowies were real or whether Jack and his family had all bought into some kind of hysterical fantasy. I became a little frustrated with the endless amount of pain and suffering that Zeltserman inflicted upon Jack, and I felt that many of the supporting characters were very stereotypical, but in the end, I couldn't stop reading, because I really wanted to know how everything would be wrapped up. This could be an interesting movie.

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