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  • By James Young
    Oct 15, 2009
    "Review of 'The Man From Waukegan' from Common Conservative" From ‘Common Conservative’ The Man From Waukegan by J. P. Zabolski A book review by Thomas Lindaman A man can have many loves throughout his life: a wife, a parent, a pet, even a childhood toy. But rare is the occasion that a man can love a hometown as extensively and as deeply. The Man From Waukegan by J. P. Zabolski explores this notion and the author's love of his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. Even with his travels around the world as part of the Marines and his current home in Australia, he never forgot the richness of his life in Waukegan. Zabolski's great strength in the book is in his storytelling. Every chapter is full of wonderful details of people and places he encountered on his journeys, as well as his return home for a two week holiday. As with any great storyteller, Zabolski gives the reader enough detail to set the stage, but leaves out enough detail to let the imagination soar. Even if we've... More > never been to Waukegan, we get a good sense of what it's like because of the great descriptions. The same can be said of the various people Zabolski introduces the reader to throughout the book. From the strict Mr. T (not the one from "The A-Team") to the sweet waitresses who serve him, the author characterizes them all with the same storytelling approach he utilizes to set the scenes. We may not know them, but we know people from our childhoods like them. These two elements underscore another one of Zabolski's strengths. He makes a solid connection with the reader from the first words of the book and does not let go until the end. We can feel the roller-coaster of emotions Zabolski brings out in the book, from sadness at not speaking to an attractive young girl to sheer joy at being able to talk to old friends and other figures in the community to reminisce about the "good old days." The impressive thing about the book is how layered the stories are within the chapters. Although Zabolski makes it clear that each chapter covers a particular timeframe, you get a real sense of history within each chapter. One event in the present of the book bumps into a memory, which dumps into another memory. This may sound confusing at first blush, but Zabolski pulls it off without so much as a scratched head. We know where he's going at all times and all of the stories blend together in rich hues and textures, leaving the reader entertained, educated, and thrilled at the same time. Although the book is written in English, occasionally Zabolski tosses in an alternate spelling of common American words. This may throw off some readers, but for others it only adds to the book, showing that even though the author is the man from Waukegan, he is still a man of the world. The alternate spellings add spice to the stories, even to the point where the reviewer started "hearing" the words spoken with an Australian accent. But the book is more than just one man's love affair with his hometown. It also speaks of a larger love, the love of one's home country. Although some of the people from his youth have left the backdrop, new people take their places and have some of the same experiences as the long lost friends. In the midst of current discussions regarding legal and illegal immigration, Zabolski reminds us that nationality does not always make us different. The Man From Waukegan by J. P. Zabolski is a wonderful, easy read that engrosses the reader from start to finish. It's clear the book was a labor of love for the author from the efforts he made to turn a highly personal experience into something far more universal. And in doing so, he will awaken our own fond memories of home, whether it be Waukegan or Wooloomooloo.< Less
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Product Details

ISBN
9781411620643
Published
February 15, 2007
Language
English
Pages
263
Binding
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
Weight
1 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
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