Author: Jim Lindsay
Author: Jim Lindsay
Jim Lindsay's debut novel, The Little Bastards, features the story of Sonny Mitchell as he reminiscences about his adolescent years growing up in the small town of Willamette, Oregon in the 1950's and the poignant memories it evokes. It was a time when huge changes were taking place when America was entering a new era of hope and prosperity and where social change seemed not only possible but close at hand.
Sonny recalls with great clarity and fondness his close knit circle of four friends who were given the name the “little bastards” by an employee of the local sawmills whose job consisted in patrolling the rafts to make sure no one stole the logs and to keep the kids off of them. Sonny and his friends always found a way to create some shenanigans which led to driving this poor fellow crazy.
Although the story is a work of fiction, The Little Bastards will nonetheless appeal to readers who grew up during this era to not only yearn for their past but also to relive the past and remember many of the antics that Sonny experienced along with his close friends. It is also a reminder as to how we seem to forget what we ate the previous night but we can describe in detail and clarity the havoc we may have caused, for example, how we tormented one of our teachers, such as described in one of the chapters in the book.
What really caught my eye in the novel is the manner in which Lindsay skillfully paints a picture of the pulse of the 1950's and his ability to generate strong mental pictures of Sonny's experiences during the critical years of his life which is so essential in producing a believable and affecting novel. These include his high-school days, the first time making out with a girl, progressing from riding bicycles to hot rods, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, listening to the new rock and roll music, meeting up with some shady characters, and several other experiences that we can easily probably relate to. You would have to admit, that Notwithstanding these familiar experiences, there was one experience that was probably quite unique to Sonny and that was when he and his friend were invited by the son of a funeral parlour owner to see a dead corpse who nonchalantly informs him one day, “we just got a new one down at the house that you and Joe might like taking a look at.”
In the 1950's automobile ownership began to take off which in turn led to the popularization of the hot rod culture. Lindsay devotes considerable ink to Sonny and his friends preoccupation with modifying cars, tinkering with engines, scavenging for used parts, and even purchasing cars that have been badly damaged in accidents. The natural culmination of all of this led to illegal races where Sonny and his friends with their spare money and knowledge of mechanics turned their cars into racing vehicles and stylish rides.
Lindsay is an author of
considerable warmth and charm and has a knack in weaving an engaging
story particularly if you grew up in the same era as Sonny. And no
doubt, there is something to be said about those nostalgic moments
when you might long for the past and ask yourself what happened to
this guy or gal or perhaps relive some of the escapades similar to
those described in the novel. One lasting thought, why are we
gripped by nostalgia, which is a topic I will leave for another day.