No One's Even Bleeding
Lenny Castellaneta
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No One's Even Bleeding

Lenny Castellaneta
227 pages
May 2002
rated 2 of 5 possible stars
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This, the author's debut self-published novel, deals with his own mis/adventures as a substitute teacher in Southern California. The book is divided up into two- and three-page mini-vignettes. While some of these bite-sized stories ring with a literary personality and are pushed along with some quixotic characters and durable storylines, much of this falls into that terrible wasteland of cliches and derivative detritus that mars and undermines the initial outings of so many want-to-be-taken seriously writers.

The author brings to a close a great many of these miniature pieces with a haggard line or two that all but says, "I don't really know how to bring this section to an inspired end, so I'm just going to put down what I've read so many times before." Giving the author his due, out of context these lines may not seem to be so terrible. They're not terrible, they're simply not original. Examples: '"Cause if you threaten one of those kids, they're liable to hurt you" (this is a third person talking, hence the quote within the quote marks - but the ending quote mark is missing). She said it with a smile, but somehow, deep down inside, I sensed she meant it."

Somehow, deep down inside, I sensed she meant it? That line, that type of line, is English 101. It's the cheater's way out of looking for a more expressive closer.

Second example: "It was the perfect lousy ending to a perfectly lousy year. This is tracing paper copy." Third/fourth examples: "Little did I know that one of these three incidents... and the fourth example, Little did I know that our earlier encounter..." Little did I know, an oft-used phrase, but to use it over and over (these two samples were only a chapter apart; certainly there were others).

The author has just released a new book titled 1225 Mistletoe Lane. That will, in time, be reviewed here, and hopefully with planets aligned and pencils sharpened, this schoolteacher's sophomore story will raise his GPA above the average level.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2005

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