a town like ours
Jack Wilcon is a wannabe movie producer; not that he’s interested in making great films, he just wants to get that one mega-hit out there to make himself a ton of money. His problem is that he really knows nothing about movie making. He talks a good game, but depends more on his listeners being even more ignorant than he is. When a shlocky film he’s trying to produce flops, Maybelle, his part-time receptionist, one-time lover, and long-time friend, suggests he apply for a job advertised in Variety for a producer to make a community film in the tiny town of Coddington St. George in Australia. Reluctantly, he does, and through his usual chicanery, gets the job. And, boy, does he get the job – or rather, one might say, he gets jobbed. Jack ends up in the middle of small-town politics and internecine squabbling, and as usual, he’s without a clue.
A Town Like Ours by Alexander Cade is a droll look at big-city con men, small town hypocrites, and the fireworks that occur when they intersect. Cade has created an amazing, and amazingly flawed, cast of characters; impossible to love, but hard to turn away from. It’s kind of like the reaction of motorists driving past the scene of an accident—they can’t resist slowing down to see if there’s any gore evident. The author has played expertly on that human tendency. Without feeling a shred of sympathy for Jack, for instance, you can’t help but wonder what will happen to him next.
It you’ve ever lived in, or even visited for longer than a day, a small town, you will recognize Coddington St. George, no matter where in the world you’re from. It is like any small town desperately clinging to existence by a frayed gossamer thread, trying to preserve a past that was never all that great, cope with a present that is oppressive, and fearing a future that’s unknown.
This is a book that, once you start reading, is hard to put down. The pace varies, which is a good thing, because you’ll need the occasional break to recover from laughing at Jack’s misfortunes. Of course, with this book, bathroom breaks are not optional—yeah, in places it’ll make you laugh that hard.
A final note; in many stories like this, the endings are usually kind of left up in the air. Cade, though, has done a masterful job of lacing up loose ends. Don’t miss this one.