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Published September 08, 2013

 

Fake Book Review – The Day the Flag Stopped Flying by JK Windmill

 

When beginning TDTFSF, I was hesitant. Not because of Windmill, I knew I was in for a treat because of his past work. The back catalogue includes:

Lacrosse: Just a Game? (2003)

Sci-fi: A real Sci-Fi adventure (2001)

Whatever happened to Baby Eliza? (1942)

American History X (1998)

Shakesqueer: Homosexuality within Poetry (2009)

The Day the Flagged Stopped Flying is a coming of age story about a young boy called Jonny Rocker.  Jonny becomes conscripted into the war. When he returns 3 years later, he finds that his hometown has banned rock music and dancing.  His rebellious attitude stirs up trouble with the locals…

The main issue with TDTFSF is that the main character is particularly unlikable. Jonny overuses his catchphrase “that’s whack”. It becomes tiresome after even the first chapter. This takes the reader out of focus in the plot due to the unrealistic portrayal of war-time US. The novella is set in 1945, however many a Boom-Box are seen.

Putting contextual issues aside, the story excels. It see’s a young, naïve boy try to turn the place he once called home, upside down. Windmill uses a wide array of strong, supporting characters such as the politically incorrect but lovable Dad to good use. The local Reverend tries to get through to Jonny by giving him some “whack marbles” and singing risky, taboo Christian songs like ‘This little light of mine’ to impress him. The plot develops nicely and allows the reader to see a clear character arc, probably because the arc is pointed out by Windmill himself as it progresses.

For me, the final exchange by Jonny and local Soda fountain owner Rex is where the book really finds its feet. (SPOILER) After accepting the key to the city at the end, Jonny looks into the crowd and see’s each character written in the book. Even those that weren’t significant but had a small quirk. This allowed the reader to enjoy a full cliché closure. After shaking hands with most of his peers, Jonny comes across Rex who stands opposite him as if they had ‘beef’. Jonny’s expression changes to guilt. Rex suddenly smiles and gives Jonny a big hug. The crowd cheers as they all paused to see this encounter. In mid grip, Rex pulls him back and says “You wanna’ go for one last drive?” Jonny looks over his shoulder at the kid he wronged earlier in the book and say’s “Nah, I’ll catch up with you”. The whole crowd leaves just the kid and Jonny there. Jonny walks up to him, hands him the key to the city and say’s “here, you deserved it”. The kid suddenly smiles and gives Jonny a big hug. In mid grip, the Kid pulls back and says “You wanna’ go for one last soda?”

The best book of the year - 9/10. 

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