Author: David S. Atkinson

Publisher: River Otter Press, 2013

ISBN: 978-9835530-3-8

When in 1945 I asked my grandpa to tell me about his family coming to America (I was seven), he replied, “You don’t want to know about that!” Of course I wanted to know. In the 40 years that followed I learned very little, and that was contained in stark genealogy. That fact is, memories we tend to suppress are the bad ones. That’s one reason I prefer anecdotal history to formal memoirs.

David Atkinson calls "Bones Buried In The Dirt prose fiction,” and his dedication acknowledges that his “early life family and friends were always better than the flawed characters herein….” Well, fiction is not delivered by the stork. I didn’t find the narrator’s revelations shocking, but I did find some that usually aren’t admitted. “Peter,” recalls events from his life between the ages of four and twelve with complete openness. Sometimes he seems to be “in the dark,” and sometimes he is uneasy about the morality of what’s going on around him. As he grows older, he questions more. These nineteen episodes perhaps could stand alone, not quite stories, more like sketches; but put together in a book, each one begs for “what happened next.” They were to me like the boraxed bed sheets flapping on the various neighbors’ clotheslines once a week. What stories they could tell! Peter points to the ghosts of stains and dares to pick at the hems.

Except for the small print (I am really spoiled by my e-reader), I enjoyed everything about Bones Buried In The Dirt, especially its sensitivity, intelligence, and forgiveness. These memories Peter shared were often anxiety-producing – as unidentified bones dug up would be -- yet extremely detailed. This was no ordinary kid. At one point I wondered if he’s meant to be autistic!

A few of the details confused me about the time frame. Peter describes a girlfriend wearing what he thinks is a poodle skirt in one scene (1950s?) and mentions a friend listening to Madonna in another (yesterday?). There were other references I didn’t recognize at all. I am guessing from the photos I saw of the author that about four decades stand between us; and I am female. Still, I could identify emotionally with Peter. That is the important thing.

I received my review copy from the author, who (when he isn’t scraping the mushrooms off his pizza), is a patent attorney in Denver.

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