After two or three stories, a reader may feel perplexed about the seemingly disjointed tales in Jimmy Lagowski Saves the World, a new story collection by Akron author Pat Pujolas.
“In Memoriam” describes a sad, rainy funeral service that erupts in violence, and there the story ends; in “State Park Resort,” a 12-year-old boy spies on girls as they change into their bathing suits, and there’s a false alarm about a missing swimmer; “A More Realistic You” finds a demoralized woman on a church bus trip to a West Virginia casino, where she meets a neighbor who shows her she still has plenty of life to live.
Each story is impressive in Pujolas’ eye for details, and some are particularly arresting, like the one about the angry man accompanying his wife to the grocery store (touch and go whether he gets in a fistfight at the checkout counter) and a recovering alcoholic trying to get through an evening with his demanding young daughter, while he suspects his wife is out with another man. But it may seem that they are just stories.
Keep reading. It will become clear that Pujolas has a master plan: These stories, though they may appear to be unrelated, even inconsequential, are not only intertwined but are building toward a conclusion of great consequence.
Jimmy Lagowski Saves the World (197 pages, softcover) costs $12 from online retailers.
Akron author Marvin Brown’s impressive 2002 debut, the novella Covet, is a Kafkaesque psychological thriller about race and identity. It’s taken a while for him to follow it, but Jigsaw Man, his new suspense novel, is an intense story about the aftermath of “a night of eternal regrets.”
The story starts sometime in the 1970s, with half a dozen Akron teen stoners who ride around in a van, smoking dope and listening to Hendrix, one-upping each other with vulgar comments until it screeches to a halt in a horrifying incident that ends one life and destroys another.
Decades later, the men have varying degrees of success and challenges: one has become a contented priest, one draws a successful newspaper comic strip; one runs a PR firm, but his marriage has been broken by infidelity; a third is a dangerous drug addict and another is a sleazy sexual predator. When they are visited — first in their dreams, then in real life — by someone, or something, who knows all about what they did, they begin to consult each other about how to survive. Be prepared for a bloodbath.
Jigsaw Man (253 pages, softcover) costs $19.99 from online retailers.
‘My Life, My Story’
At the age of 88, Cuyahoga Falls resident Edward P. Taylor feels he has some wisdom to share, so he has written My Life, My Story, in which he stresses the importance of environment in the formative years: “Every phase of our lives is based on environment and those in it with us.”
Born in Akron in 1923, Taylor attended Seiberling School, and describes his neighborhood (“NH”) in detail, with its vacant lot that the kids turned into a softball field and horseshoe pits. The men raised homing pigeons and the boys skated on the pond in Goodyear Heights Metropolitan Park.
At 17, Taylor took a job at a drugstore at the bustling, flashy corner of Howard and West Market streets, where he saw plenty of action; because of a vision problem, he wasn’t eligible for active service, but later joined the Military Police, guarding prisoners of war on farms in Indiana and Kentucky.
Taylor retired in 1983 from Goodyear.
My Life, My Story (61 pages, softcover) costs $16.95 from online retailers.
• Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler, by Mark Dawidziak of Cuyahoga Falls and Paul J. Bauer of Kent, has tied for second place in the Biography category in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards, and is a nominee in the same category for the Benjamin Franklin Award presented by the Independent Book Publishers Association. Jim Tully was an Ohio-born author who lived in Kent around 1910.
Stark County Library (Perry Sippo branch, 5710 12th St. NW, Perry Township — Christopher Rudy and George Davis sign their nonfiction book The Last Victim, about a serial rapist, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (Solon branch, 34125 Portz Parkway) — Shaker Heights activist and author Loung Ung signs Lulu in the Sky: A Daughter of Cambodia Finds Love, Healing, and Double Happiness, 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson) — Cynthia Ellingsen signs The Whole Package, a comic novel about a group of friends who start a restaurant staffed exclusively by good-looking, half-dressed men, 7 p.m. Wednesday; Rafael Rosado, illustrator of Giants Beware!, a graphic novel for middle readers, visits at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — Cynthia Ellingsen signs The Whole Package, 6-8 p.m. Thursday; Mary Doria Russell signs Doc, her novel about Western icon Doc Holliday, 7-8 p.m. Friday; award-winning Pittsburgh poet Leslie Ann McIlroy reads from her work 7-8 p.m. Saturday.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (North Royalton branch, 14600 State Road) — Claudia Taller, author of Ohio’s Lake Erie Wineries, signs her book at 7 p.m. Thursday. Registration requested; call 440-237-3800.
— Barbara McIntyre
Special to the Beacon Journal
Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.