Author: Ted Olinger: Illustrator: Tweed Meyer

Publisher: Plicate Press
ISBN: 978N -0-984400-3-8

With his The Woodpecker Menace: Stories from an Accidentally Unseparated Island, veteran writer Ted Olinger's spins out descriptions with accurately rendered details of his experiences living on The Key Peninsula (KP), a finger of land in Puget Sound, Washington. He has resided with his family on KP since 2004 and has been writing about life on the shores of the area for over twenty years. Olinger's book was a 2013 National Indie Excellence Award finalist for short stories.

Using his trademark prose of vibrant plainspoken language, Olinger carefully creates unforgettable stories that linger on long after you have finished reading them. Some of his experiences are recognizable even though we may have never been to KP or heard of the place. Characters are often quirky as they leap off the page and sit at our table conversing with us about the occasionally chaotic life on KP. What is really prominent is his honest depictions that beautifully capture the everyday situations in KP in prose so succinct and so well-written that it sparkles like a beautiful diamond. He never forgets to make every word count as he realizes with short stories there is no room for the writer to hide, no room for sloppy writing or confusing thought.

Quite noteworthy is that each of Olinger's short stories transports his readers into unique settings and as soon as we enter one of these surroundings the others seem to fade away. For example, Olinger begins his short stories with the hilarious The Woodpecker Menace which showcases the humorous side of his writing. In this instance he makes fun of an annoying situation trying to combat a bothersome and pesky woodpecker.

In another story we are escorted somewhere else with his compassionate Into the Brainforest. Olinger reveals his sensitivity concerning young ones facing difficulties in school. He recounts that he volunteered to tutor a third grade boy who was struggling with his reading and could not read a book that was meant for students half his age. Olinger clues us in that he had been trained to be positive and encouraging and with the following words explains: “I do not interrupt him to address his mistakes. There are too many. Instead, I say, keep going. It seems more important to finish the book than to get it right just now.” As the essay ends, we notice how the youngster is shunned by his classmates, and while gobbling down a hot dog, utters to Olinger, “I'm a good kid, aren't I?” These few words are enough to bring a tear or two to anyone who knows what it feels to be ostracized.

Our voyage continues when Olinger introduces us to his anarchist and eccentric neighbor, someone who perhaps we likewise have met in our own environment. And if you are parents of a youngster learning to play T-ball, you can easily relate to the short story, The Good Sport. These are only a few examples of the ten delightful yarns that Olinger presents in his collection.

It would be remiss of me to review this wonderful book of short stories without mentioning the illustrations that were provided by Tweed Meyer who has been a working artist in the Pacific Northwest for more than thirty years. Her drawings are a perfect compliment to Olinger's wonderful prose.

Ted Olinger's work has appeared in Sea Kayaker, Canoe & Kayak, Upstate House,, and local newspapers.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Ted Olinger

Follow Here To Purchase The Woodpecker Menace