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November 2011 Archives

November 19, 2011

WELCOME TO FRED (Brad Whittington)

Welcome To Fred is a delightfull read from start to finish by native Texan Brad Whittington. It's chock full of colorful characters, imaginative writing and storytelling that gets you hooked from the beginning. The novel follows the adventures of Whittington's protagonist Mark Cloud, a PK (the common parlance for preacher's kid) in the late 60's - 70's. And as Whittington well knows (he himself was a PK), preacher's kids are looked upon and experience life differently than the rest of us. Sometimes its a blessing, sometimes a curse. And when you throw in the fact that Mark's intelligence and curiosity often put him at odds not only with the townfolk of backwater Fred, Texas but his father as well, it only serves to add another interesting element to the story. Mark Cloud wrestles with his faith (Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger figures prominently), the emotions of teenage romance, and his place in the world. And what's a Texas based book without its occasional Bubba or Darnell character? They're included here as well, but Whittington makes them interesting and charming - not stereotypical. I love the musical references Whittington infuses the novel with. As a kind of soundtrack to Mark Cloud's life, references as diverse as old time Americana artist Doc Watson, ZZ Top, Neil Young, and even the soundtrack from Dr. Zhivago get namechecked for great effect. At times there is a bit of a Mayberry feel to the novel but that gives way to the reality that sometimes bad things happen to good people, relationships are complicated, forgiveness and redemption are complicated if not mysterious, and solutions to problems are found in God's good time - not in the time frame of a tv sitcom. In that regard, Whittington's writing reminds me of the great Kentucky writer Wendell Berry.whose wtfchristycover120.jpgcharacters often find their sustenance in a place they once scorned - their own small town community. The novel ends with a family vacation to the land of the counter culture - California. Mark Cloud envisions a hipness there that the residents of Fred, Texas could not or would not understand. What he actually finds is not "hipness", but a deeper and more meaningful understanding of himself and family connectedness. Welcome To Fred is the first of the Fred trilogy. The other two Fred books being Living With Fred and Escape From Fred. Welcome to Fred, stay a while. I know you'll enjoy it.

About November 2011

This page contains all entries posted to DR. BYNUM'S SHOW in November 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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