Donald O’Donovan Reviews Secrets of an Old Typewriter

Donald O’Donovan, author of the novels Night Train, Tarantula Woman, & the upcoming Highway, reviews Secrets of an Old Typewriter. Spectacular review! Can be found at the book’s page on here

Here is the full text of the review:

Ride on the float in the homecoming parade. Be the homecoming queen. Order a chocolate shake at the corner drugstore. Own a black and white TV. Drink tap water straight from the garden hose. Dry your wash on a clothesline. Leave your front door unlocked at night. Seriously retro, Secrets of an Old Typewriter takes you back to small town America in the Forties and Fifties during what might be called the Age of Innocence–the period between World War II and Vietnam.

Columbia City Indiana is the iconic American small town in which author Susie Duncan Sexton was born, grew up, and has lived all her life as wife, mother, teacher and newspaper columnist.

Susie Duncan Sexton has a breezy journalistic style that is literate, witty and easy to read. She seems to be speaking to us rather than writing. You’re right there with her, whether she’s sitting in a rocking chair with Uncle Jim on Aunt Lellie’s front porch smoking a pipe, or at the Columbia Theater munching purple Gummy Bears as she watches a film re-enactment of the fatal crash of fellow Hoosier James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder. Secrets of an Old Typewriter will make you laugh and it will make you sad, and you’ll smile at human foibles, including your own, as you dive into this nostalgic volume of a smart and sassy small town girl’s memoirs.

“[My] fourth grade teacher Miss Demaris Smalley, all of four feet in height, attempting to pummel and simultaneously shove to the pea-gravelly ground a five footer classroom bully after blowing her “RECESS IS NOW SUDDENLY OVER” whistle…”

The history books skip over the interludes between wars, hurrying on to paint lavish portraits of the Alexanders, the Churchills and the Hitlers. But what about us? Ordinary citizens, mothers, fathers, children, teachers, friends? Why doesn’t somebody write our history? Well, here it is, or at least a snippet of it. Susie Duncan Sexton gets up close and personal with her Columbia City Age of Innocence contemporaries, and her reportage is focused, detailed, often humorous, and refreshingly free of political or religious bias.

I’m going to confess that I didn’t read Secrets from cover to cover, just like that. I picked an episode at random, then another, then another and another. I think the book is meant to be read that way, informally, as if you were gabbing with the author over the back fence. Secrets of an Old Typewriter is a scintillating pastiche of memories, anecdotes and portraits that the author has quilted together in a very agreeable way.

I think future generations of readers will be increasingly grateful for this book as the American Age of Innocence fades from living memory, because what we have here is the actual fabric of life as recorded by an active participant, more observant than most, wonderful with words and possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of popular culture. Secrets of an Old Typewriter is a treasure whose value can only appreciate as years go by.

Review by Donald O’Donovan

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