The Turncoat Chronicles is interesting, entertaining, and well-written. The narrative lends itself well to e-book format, with instant links to prove a point or add something to the topic. The author even includes a recipe for paella and ends with a “how-to guide” on becoming an ex-pat. And the whole thing makes for thoroughly enjoyable reading. I was following four stories as I scrolled along. Each one is very entertaining, and capable of standing alone.
First, there are the travels of a small-town American boy who embarks on a journey of discovery. Along the way he observes and learns, and tells us about it. He ends up in Andalucía where he makes a living through his entrepreneurial skills to support a family, apparently having disproved Thoreau’s claim that “most men lead lives of quiet desperation”.
Second, there is the Spanish version of “A Year in Provence”. I found the day-to-day life fascinating as the author lived through Spain’s “modernization”. Spain must have seemed primitive when he first arrived in the Sixties, trying to make a household with an instant family and no running water.
Third, the author’s skills at description create a third book in the form of a travelogue of Spain. I was particularly interested in the changes that have occurred in the author’s neighborhood. I assume this represents what has happened all over Spain.
And finally, there are the political “tirades” (the author’s own word), which show the evolution of his decision to become a Spanish citizen. He sees the United States “from a distance”, and describes, warts and all, what only an ex-pat can see in American culture.
I read The Turncoat Chronicles as an autobiographical picaresque novel. The author leaves his Midwestern small town and sets out on a journey. He goes to college, is drafted into the Army, sees the American west, goes to Europe, ends up in Spain, meets a married English woman, falls in love, adds a son to their blended family, and decides he is no longer American. He is a Midwestern Candide who finally discovers “the best of all possible worlds” in Grenada.
My only other comment is that I don’t recall in the paella recipe if he included the chicken claw that I recall appearing from the bed of yellow rice as you pick your way through seafood and chicken. Other than that, The Turncoat Chronicles is a thoroughly enjoyable journey.
(In full disclosure… I went to high school with Mike Booth, and his book answered my question: What have you been doing the last 50 years?)
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)