Author:David A. Poulsen

Publisher:Dundurn Toronto

ISBN: 978-1-4597-3248-3 (pbk.).—ISBN 978-1-4597-3255-1 (pdf).--ISBN 978-1-4597-3256-8 (epub)

We’re told that one of the missions of art is to hold up a mirror to the audience, be it reader, viewer, or listener. If you don’t recognize yourself in David Poulsen’s delightful and incisive account of Andy “Alamo” Crockett’s senior high school years spent at Parkerville Comprehensive, you should check yourself out for vampirism.

The school is not the only thing that’s “comprehensive.” With lean and telling prose, we are treated to a full portrait of Andy, his close and distant classmates, his girl friends, his family, and, perhaps most critically, his relationship with his favorite school teacher.

But what does Andy do? Where’s the conflict and the intensity? At first there’s a rather low-voltage story about Andy’s flat tire(s). Although even this somewhat tiresome tale is spiced up a bit before it ends, the reader hopes that that is not all there is.

And indeed, it is not. From that point on, the story moves to Andy’s relationship with his charismatic, anti-Semitic “dream” teacher. This is the spine that gives “Numbers” its gravitas. Its resolution is enormously satisfying, and its final line is as shocking as it is inspiring.

David Poulsen is a wonderful writer. His sense of the comic potential of both understatement and hyperbole pleases on almost every page. His metaphors and similes are fresh and refreshing. The book’s relatively few editing indiscretions are readily overlooked.

Both as a nostalgic reminder of one’s high school years and an inspiration to think thoroughly, independently, and compassionately, Numbers should be very close to number one on your reading list.