Book Report: The House at the End of the Block and The Big Fish and Gas Rationing by Clyde E. Wilkerson (?)

Book coverBook coverI bought these books at Redeemed in the local interest section because I thought they were both little reminisciences of life in the Ozarks. They’re very short–each about six pages or so (but I’m counting them as two books, dammit). But I was wrong. They’re short and independent like this because their the tracts of a local Baptist congregation, either available as a pickup for members or as leave-behinds as the Brothers and Sisters visit homes in the area.

I gave one to my wife and read one myself when we had a couple minutes to kill yesterday, and she first read The Big Fish and Gas Rationing while I read The House at the End of the Block. She said right away that it was very Baptist and didn’t make much sense. I got pretty quickly the parablic nature of my pamphlet, although I was not so harsh as to say it didn’t make much sense. But then I later read the one I had given her (and she did not read the other).

The Big Fish and Gas Rationing is a little wildy skewing as it runs through a story about the narrator having trouble understanding the man at the gas station during gas rationing (which places the story in the 1940s or 1970s). Then he meets a cab driver somewhere–I’m not sure if he’s going to the airport in Springfield or going to the airport to return to Springfield–and he and the cab driver like to fish, so they make plans to go fishing. When they do, the James River floods (aha! They’re in Springfield. Or Virginia, where a James River flows to the Potomac) and they’re stranded for a couple days atop their car — but if they’d gone to church instead of fishing, they would not be in this predicament. The narrator learns his lesson and returns to the gas station to apologize to the attendant for being impatient and rude. It really doesn’t flow very well at all.

The House at the End of the Block definitely has a better narrative. The Brother narrator and his partner are going door-to-door, and they come to a cluttered house they don’t want to visit, but do because their faith demands it. Inside, they find a drunkard who beats his wife and kids and prohibits them from attending their church, which they had previously. The next Sunday, though, the family minus the husband and the baby are waiting for the church bus, and as they go, the man has an awakening where he sees what his wasting ways have left for his family and changes. That night, they all go to church and the man is saved. Later, the man himself is going door-to-door when he encounters an old drinking buddy who the man tries to save, but the drinking buddy mocks him. Later, the drinking buddy goes to a tavern and gets into a brawl and is shot in the process. When the changed man visits the dying buddy in the hospital, the dying buddy says how wrong he is. It’s a shorter take on a Dickens kind of tale. Overall, this one flows far better than The Big Fish and Gas Rationing.

Both have a number of Bible chapters for one to review to learn more the lessons that the narrator and the others learn.

They were very quick reads, of course, and worth my (little) time because I’m into reading everything. Also, I counted them as two books to make up some ground this year for all the books over a thousand pages that I’m working on.

I was going to say you can’t buy them on the Internet, but apparently ABC Books up on Glenstone offers The Big Fish and Gas Rationing for $25.00. I wonder if that’s the in-store price. If so, it’s more than the buck fifty I paid down at Redeemed. Maybe they’re Baptist collectors’ items or something.

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