Everybody knows self-published books are usually garbage. God knows you've seen me go on and on about several of them in this blog. Usually a self-published book (meaning one not issued by some established publisher) indicates that the writer had a great IDEA for a book ... but just couldn't bring it off.
Self-published books are usually Just Barely in English, were never proofread, and are usually a mass of typographical errors, mixed-up punctuation, and sentences that you can barely make sense out of.
A few of these "masterpieces" have been chopped-up in this blog over the years -- look up such stunning works as Jerry Lucky's PROGRESSIVE ROCK FILES, Joe Benson's UNCLE JOE'S GUIDE TO PROGRESSIVE ROCK, or that Moody Blues COMPANION I reviewed earlier this year.
But there are always exceptions....
Linda Lou's memoir BASTARD HUSBAND: A LOVE STORY is a big exception. It's vivid and funny -- and a bit scary, in places.
I admit I read BH because I'm in the middle of writing a memoir myself, and I wanted to see how someone else did it -- and if a "life story" memoir by someone I'd never met could hold my interest through 250 pages.
That definitely wasn't a problem here.
If you've read Linda's blog, Linda Lou, Live from Las Vegas!, you know she's always direct and funny, and when she writes, she knows exactly what she's doing.
What she's doing here is writing about how her marriage fell apart. There are worse places to end your marriage than Vegas, but Linda shows clearly that Vegas ain't such a party town when you're alone and lonely.
Here's what happens: While traveling for work, Linda meets a guy who seems to be her soulmate. They hit it off, they spend all their time together, they seem to be Cosmically Meant To Be Together. They get married, and as part of following his career as a college professor, they move around The West.
That's when Linda learns that her soulmate husband is an angry, scary drunk. There is an ugly, scary scene in their home in Laramie, Wyoming, that shows how frightening he can be. When they move to Vegas, it becomes clear he has a gambling problem, too.
There's an emotional showdown -- in a swimming pool, of all places. And it becomes clear that Linda can't "rescue" her husband. She can't save him from himself. All she can do is get out of his way.
So she does. He goes on with his life. And while she's looking for work, Linda makes friends, learns about the Vegas nightlife, meets a series of unforgettable characters while serving as a hospice volunteer, and starts doing stand-up comedy at age 46.
There are other good things. Almost every section of this book has some laughs, no matter how serious things sometimes get. Some lines will have you laughing out loud. There is a scene late in the book with Linda's family around the dinner table at Christmas that has GOT to get into some movie someday.
The ending may dribble away just a little bit, but Real Life is like that, and Linda gets something positive out of it. As a survivor's story, it's a winner, and it will make you laugh.
And this book avoids one of my big problems with self-published books: There are VERY few typos. Maybe only two or three in the very last section, which means someone actually proofread it before it was published. That's a definite bonus. You won't be jolted out of the reading experience.
Linda Lou makes writing a memoir look easy. I trust that it wasn't. Especially the ugly parts.
And believe me, these days when I can't get through most novels, anybody who can write about her life and make me hang on every word is worth checking out.
You should check out her blog, too....