- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
This title in other editions
Eddie's Bastardby William Kowalski
Synopses & Reviews
"My life has been made of stories from beginning to end," reflects Billy Mann. "And just when it seems one is ending, a new one begins. The world itself is woven of stories, each man and woman and child of us threading our own brightly colored tale into the bigger story that was already being told as we were born and that will continue to be woven by others long after our threads have run out."
So, too, is the novel, Eddie's Bastard made from stories, beginning to end. And these stories, told and retold to Billy Mann by his irascible grandfather, form the basis of the boy's education as he discovers what it's like to be a man — and a Mann.
Whether he's hearing the circumstances of his own birth, or reading tidbits of philosophy and pioneer wisdom in his ancestor's diary, Billy is surrounded by tales of adventure, bravery, misfortune, friendship, feuds, greed, and death. For Billy, these stories transform an existence that is often difficult and painful: orphaned at birth, left in a basket on his reclusive grandfather's doorstep; made to fend for himself when his alcoholic guardian was too drunk to care for him; subject to his grandfather's fits of rage and gloom. At a relatively young age, Billy witnesses child abuse, death, poverty, and sex. It is not surprising that he will grow up to be a writer, he himself a teller of stories.
But Billy's world is also filled with wonder and freedom. Guided by his grandfather's unconventional views on caring for children, Billy is left to explore the world around him: the dilapidated farmhouse and its overgrown yard, the fields and farms beyond it, the town of Mannville, where his grandfather seldom ventures. Through hisown experiences, Billy learns many of life's lessons. But it is his grandfather's perspective, his certainty that the Mann family is both indomitable and tragic, which most informs Billy's coming-of-age. Billy's awareness of his legacy gives him the courage to stand up to the school bully, to teach himself to drive a motorcycle, to take on his friend Annie's wretched father, and to remain her friend, even through the most strenuous of times.
The details of life take on a larger meaning when they are framed as stories. It is easier to accept, if not understand, life's hardships when they are viewed through the prism of a story. It becomes easier to explain one's own choices when they are presented in the form of a story. Without stories, Billy Mann might have been somewhat less optimistic about the path his own life has taken. But what else do the stories offer? For Billy and for his grandfather, they are a way of keeping the Mann family alive. For, as his grandfather's life aptly demonstrates, money and fortune are fleeting. But families — and the history they create — endure forever. Questions for Discussion
Reading Group Guides come in packs of 20 and are available free of charge from your local bookstore or by calling 1-800-242-7737.
Rich and ambitious in scope, this mesmerizing debut novel explores the meaning of family and the role of the individual in the continuum of time, telling the bittersweet story of an old man who raises his illegitimate grandson as the last proud scion of his family.
"Eddie's Bastard" is William Amos Mann IV, known as Billy — the son of a heroic pilot killed in Vietnam and an unknown woman. The last in a line of proud, individualistic Irish-American men, Billy is discovered in a basket at the door of the dilapidated mansion where his bitter, hard-drinking grandfather, Thomas Mann, has exiled himself. Astonished and moved by the arrival of his unexpected progeny, Thomas sets out to raise the boy himself — on a diet of love, fried baloney, and the fascinating lore of their shared heritage. Listening to his sets out to capture the stories on paper. He is a Mann, Grandpa reminds him daily, and thus destined for greatness.
Through the tales of his ancestors, his own experiences, and the unforgettable characters who enhance and enliven his adolescence, Billy learns of bravery and cowardice, of life and death, of the heart's capacity for love and for unremitting hatred, eventually grasping the meaning of family and history and their power to shape destiny. Steeped in imagery and threaded with lyricism, Eddie's Bastard is a novel of discovery, of a young man's emergence into the world, and the endless possibilities it offers.
About the Author
William Kowalski was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1970. He has lived in Boston, New York, Santa Fe, West Palm Beach, and the Mojave Desert, and currently lives in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. He is now at work on a fourth book.
What Our Readers Are Saying
Other books you might like