What Ricky’s Reading


by JP Gritton

You’re broke, and you’ve just been fired. Your wife has left you. You and your brother don’t get along because your mother killed herself and you blame your brother. But he has a job for you. He isn’t going to pay you near as much as he should, but you figure you might as well take the job because you have nothing else to do. The only problem is that the job is to carry 50 pounds of high-grade marijuana from Colorado to Houston.

Wyoming is the story of Shelley Cooper. His life and family is in shambles. Now he is asked to carry drugs for his brother in exchange for what he thinks is a very unfair cut of the profit. With no job prospects on the horizon, what else is Shelley going to do? The delivery goes smoothly, but something about the transaction bothers Cooper. He exchanged the drugs for a lockbox full of cash. How much cash? Only his brother knows for sure because the money is padlocked in a case.

Fifty pounds of marijuana is worth a lot of money, right? Cooper breaks the padlock to find that his cut is around 5 percent. That is not a lot considering the high-stakes nature of the job. Things go from bad to worse when part of the money is stolen from him and he has his teeth kicked in by a woman who had invited herself into his motel room for a drink. To make matters worse, Cooper had wanted things to go south. Was it resentment for his brother or disgust for the decisions he had made in his life that made him feel this way? Even he wasn’t sure.

When life takes a turn for the worse, sometimes we make terrible choices, and Cooper may just have to live with the choices he has made for the rest of his life. When you strike a match near a bridge, don’t be surprised when it goes up in flames and you have no way to get back across. Fire consumes, and it isn’t very picky about how much it destroys.

My thoughts: The plot and pace of the book was great for a debut author. The book jumps back and forth to reveal how all the events in Cooper’s life had led to some of his decisions. One of the things that made the book difficult for me to read was that it was written in the vernacular. You can almost imagine yourself sitting down with Cooper in the seat next to you, and he is relaying this story to you in his unique drawl. It is not necessarily a bad style, but as an English major, I find myself wanting to attack the book with a red pen.

Ricky Statham is director at Oneonta Public Library. Visit the library Monday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., to check out this or another great book.