A Bowl Full of Nails.

Author:Jagareski, Rachel
Position:Book review

Charles Degelman; A BOWL FULL OF NAILS; Harvard Square Editions (Fiction: Historical) 19.95 ISBN: 9780989596046

Byline: Rachel Jagareski

Sensitive ruminations on one's place in the community and the world will resonate with independent spirits.

May 15, 1969: It's Bloody Thursday at People's Park in Berkeley, California, and street theater activist Gus Bessemer returns from his confrontation with the "pigs" with a butt full of birdshot and the need to skip town for a construction job a thousand miles away. In Charles Degelman's A Bowl Full of Nails, Gus is served the titular breakfast by his live-in girlfriend the morning after he announces his solo travel plans. Foregoing this iron-rich snack, he hits the road for a transformative year with a mother lode of independent spirits in Montgomery, Colorado.

Like its large cast of diverse characters, the novel is a mA[c]lange of genres. The plot is tie-dyed with elements of suspense, mystery, and bildungsroman themes and is splashed with portraits of counterculture types and self-reliant mountain folk. The author skillfully paints these short but vivid character descriptions to help sort them out among the complicated, felony-laced plot lines. With a population of only seventy-two, Montgomery sure has a lot of crime, and Gus is determined to figure out who the...

To continue reading