Late Nite* Book Review -- Where's My Wand?

By Guest Writer:
Dave Kinchen

Where's My Wand? -- Eric Poole

Eight-year-old Eric Poole, recently relocated from Iowa to the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, lacks the magical powers of Endora, from the TV show Bewitched, but he has a tattered chenille bedspread that mimics her caftans. His adventures through high school in the 1970s are chronicled in "Where's My Wand? One Boy's Magical Triumph Over Alienation and Shag Carpeting" (Berkeley Books Trade Paperback, 304 pages, $15.00).

If you like David Sedaris, David Rakoff and Augusten Burroughs and their memoirs, you'll connect with Eric Poole's mostly hilarious and often sad, and always touching escapades -- as in the case of a Ford Pinto slamming into a bus Poole was riding with his father, Ray, up to their former home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to collect their car. The Pinto's occupants didn't survive the collision with the bus. Poole's dad, employed at a big aerospace company in St. Louis, is often overshadowed in "Where's My Wand?" by his obsessive-compulsive "Queen of Clean" mother, Elaine, but both parents are trying their best to raise Eric and his four-years-older sister Valerie.

In Chapter 3, "A Call to Arms," Eric acquires a new buddy, a lanky, beautiful blonde, Stacy, who has a disability far beyond Eric's hearing loss: She was born without arms. Despite this daunting disability, his classmate comes to the aid of Eric with her take-no-prisoners language, a truly fierce attitude and kick-boxing skills that are amped up when she's fitted with an erector-set like artificial arm that comes in handy when the two encounter a bully at a creek.

Here's an exchange between Eric and Stacy about name-calling and bullying that I particularly liked:

"Why do you let them laugh at you?" Stacy said, shooting several boys a threatening look that sent them hustling down the path.
"Because I don't care what they think," I replied airily. "You don't care what people think about you, either."
"Sometimes I do."
I turned to her, shocked. "You do?"
Stacy sat on the ground, her legs bent in front of her as she kicked idly at the tufts of grass with her left foot. "It's just easier to make people scared of you than to make them like you. At least, when you look like me."

"Where's My Wand?" is a delightful, touching memoir that is being developed into a TV series. Read it before it gets mangled by Hollywood. You already have a TV set in your head, and maybe, a tattered white chenille bedspread stashed somewhere.