Bleachers -by Joseph Mills

  • a DougInNC book report
  • “More than a Review”

The reader finds fifty-four very short missives centered around the Saturday morning youth soccer experience. But this book is marginally about the sport. Rather, it is about people and parenting.

The format makes the work easy to read. Lovely leverage of language makes it fun. The stories deliver entertainment and insight, at times bringing the gift Robert Burns sought, “… to see ourselves as others see us.”

I enjoyed the views from “Bleachers” without being a parent. I expect anyone inclined to digest these morsels will savor them as well. Readers outside the U.S.A. could be challenged by references steeped in domestic culture.

Reflection follows on passages from author Joseph Mills, chosen from many worth highlighting.

The chapter “Family” rolls out the soccer ball as metaphor for family in a wonderfully-constructed segment. The writer notes how interlocking panels curve the surface inward, holding something as essential as air, the breaths we take.

The “Responsibility” chapter centers around a child, Hunter, unprepared because he cannot find his equipment scattered around the house. It’s not the first time he has lost it. His mother refuses in this case to be the savior. She wants to teach him responsibility.

The strife between mother and son boils on the ride to the game, and a clever double entendre tells us that “Hunter lost it in the car.” The literal “lost” has become the figurative “lost.”
This is one of many moments appreciated in Bleachers for writing as well as relatability.

That chapter’s comedic capstone comes in the mother’s thoughts toward her son: ” … he was like almost every man Wanda knew. It baffled her that cop shows had mostly male detectives when the men she knew couldn’t find the couches they were sitting on.”
The chapters swing from male to female perspective with ease.

Imagery is invoked, such as this movie reference from the “Understanding” chapter: “She understands how some parents try to be the great and powerful Oz, desperately trying to cover their shortcomings and make the grim, black-and-white world into a magical place of color.”
Casting the wizard in this role is wonderful allusion. Morphing “black-and-white … into … color” is situationally-perfect word wizardry.

Some pieces in the book are keen on phrases that have only three words but carry great weight in certain situations, such as “Just a phase” or “Someday you’ll understand.” The “Mohawk” chapter muses on things that seem like a good idea “… At The Time. A tattoo. Another drink. A kid. Marriage. Mohawks.”

Author Mills triggers an aside. Most posts in the ‘Book’ section of this blog promise “… more than a Review,” thus I will expand his contributions with a few more examples of “three words that say so much:”

Early in life, we learn the magic words: “Please; thank you.”

The child leverages “He started it” and “Dad/Mom said so.”

A lifetime is accumulated in experiences seemed wise “At the time.”

At the pinnacle of the three-word mountain is “I love you.”

A wide spectrum is visible through “When I die.”

Indignity is injected into a later-life compliment by adding “For your age.”

At the end is “Laid to rest” or “Rest In Peace.”

Just. Three. Words. That topic may become an entire blog post someday. Or maybe the blogger never follows through, “bless his heart.”

Enjoy this book by Joseph Mills, full title and subtitle being “BLEACHERS / Fifty-four Linked Fictions.”

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