THE BELLMAN CHRONICLES: Shining a Light on Mankind’s Missteps from the Trenches Reviewed By Karen Dahood of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer Karen Dahood : Karen lives in Tucson, AZ. After 35 years as a writer for businesses and nonprofits, she has turned to writing mysteries,the subtext of which addresses ageism, unpreparedness for aging, and America's wealth of experience and wisdom. Learn more about eldersleuth Sophie George at the Website Moxie Cosmos; Making Sense of Life Through Writing.View all articles by Karen Dahood
Author: Robert Hookey
ISBN: 978-1-62345-013-7 (eBook)
This Canadian bellman doesn’t take himself too seriously – most of the time. He apologizes right off for what he calls “entertainment and rant.” I’d say it’s more of the former, though he does go on. Remember when we used to look forward to the inspiring anecdotes and family friendly jokes in Reader’s Digest? This book fits in somewhere between that sensibility and a long night with a stand-up comic. I’d say: pack this book in your suitcase for when you have time to kill at a hotel. You can tuck in a few pages while you are waiting in line at the check-in counter, waiting for the elevator, or – heaven forfend – waiting for the bellhop. If you are a bell-person yourself, and that seems unlikely, you will probably find it life-affirming, but if you are someone who has not seen a bellhop since you were a kid – most went out of existence along with porters at train stations – you will be left wondering: Where does he work?
He works in Canada where things are a little more European. Also, there’s a great legacy of humor north of the border. Stephen Leacock was once the best known humorist in the English-speaking world and Canada’s equivalent to Robert Benchley in the U.S. That was almost a hundred years ago. So be warned: This book has no plot. It is a compilation of strange and amusing encounters as recalled by “The Hook” at his work, mostly having to do with demanding or inconsiderate guests. For example, he resents those who ask to borrow what he calls a “bell cart” (translation: luggage cart) at what is a “full service” hotel. Imagine! Some are so unsophisticated as to call it a “pushcart” or “trolley,” or even “thingy.” Nor does he have much patience for children (except his own darling Sarah, of whom we hear snippets). Most of all, he hates skinflints. Readers who are bellmen will recognize his pain, and we can sympathize, but not when he comes close to profiling the unusual man who tipped as one “whose ethnic background precludes … generosity.”
When Hookey does get serious it is to give advice on the importance of being a decent person, and not a d-----b-g. This nasty slang word which gained currency in the 1960s to describe an obnoxious, socially inept, pathetic male – but originates in the purist female privacy – spoiled the entire book for me. After seeing it in a dozen places I decided to search and count: There are 17 pages of citations, each page with three examples (and a few more in the same sentences). That’s 51 and upward. But now I am ranting. On the bright side, Hookey is a good writer, and seems to be a great husband and father; and he did have a few nice things happen to him because he has such a splendid, forgiving sense of humor.
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