Wild Time Radio's Thomas Janak interviews Susie here!
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 Amazon.com.
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
Mary Maday: "I read 'Secrets...' - brought back a lot of memories. Have told friends to buy the set because I 'ain't' lending mine. Will start the other one soon....Like the lady who did the review --- I also adored James Dean -- in all movies - have them all and have two hardbacks re Himself with lots of pics. I remember buying a red jacket like his to wear with my jeans. Will let you know when I read 'More Secrets...'. I loved every chapter in the one I read and agree with everything you wrote so I no longer feel 'alone' in this world."
Kat Kelly-Heinzelman: "I just finished your book More Secrets of an Old Typewriter: Misunderstood Gargoyles and Overrated Angels. I couldn't put it down....I loved every word of it. I started it last night (or should I say this morning) when I finally got finished my cleaning from dinner and my guests. But I didn't stop until I got to the last page. It was wonderful ...I haven't got a copy of your first book yet because the library had a copy and I read it through them. I like your Jimmy Dean chapter and you are so very right....I still watch his three movies over and over again...out of all of them, I think Giant is my favorite."
Bobbie Grob: “Secrets of an Old Typewriter by Susie Duncan Sexton is a book of short stories about the author's life and experiences in a small town. The stories are amusing and honest, and by the time I finished the book, I felt like I knew Susie. This is definitely a great read!”
I'm feeling nostalgic these days and this book fit in with that mode. While I could not relate to the time of this book, I did enjoy learning about it. Sexton's style is easy and conversational...endearing and comforting.Coming from a relatively "small town" (not this small) myself, and having been raised to appreciate Soda Jerks and Otis Redding, after spending over a decade out in the real world, this was a welcome saunter down simplicity. The plot is less a plot and more a series of memories, the writing style is basic, and the references do not always involve the younger reader in its import. However, I think if you take the book as a series of conversations with your grandma or neighbor, it becomes enjoyable and sweet.I recommend. It will more likely appeal to older readers who can relate to the period and the mentality -- and many younger, more impatient readers will have difficulty staying focused. But if you're looking for that simple little break, pick it up and read a chapter or two.(note: I was born in the late 70s)
I received this book as part of the Early Reviewer's program but I have to admit I would have been attracted to the cover immediately if it were in a book store. It's a sweet, short novella filled with reminiscences about growing up in a small town. The e-book format is not my favorite but I think it's a great idea in order to get this book into as many hands as possible. I think some people will find it quite quaint (not meant pejoratively). I enjoy that tone myself. The author is a progressive thinker and the flavor of the book reminds one of 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe,' a book I admire. She's irreverent regarding the small town mores she grew up with.
Review by Dr. Mary McCormack
Poetic, energetic. Sentimental, temperamental. Those stories I could relate to were easy reading & enjoyable. Some ... weren't in line with my political bent. All things considered, it is a fun read & I would recommend this book to some of my friends.
J.A. Hernandez, from amazon.com
Wonderful comments and a couple more reviews! From Deborah Fields Perez: "Fantastic feel good book of the year! I bought my copy and love reading it at the end of the day. Such light-hearted, good-people stories. I adore this book. It will be on my book shelf for many years to come....It's true!! I keep it within reaching distance of where I sit at night. You tell stories with such nice detail. I feel like I'm right there with you....This is such a well-written book that makes you feel all warm and cozy inside. You will truly enjoy reading the stories and feel as if you are right there with the characters. I bought my copy two weeks ago and I absolutely love it."
From Bob Wannberg: "thank you Susie, that is very kind of you mentioning me, but you are the kind one! - it is wonderful writing! thank you so much!" From Neil Simon: “She is such fun!” From Paul Clifford Schrade: "Susie has all the flavors and the vigor of Americana. She's processed it all through that mind and heart of hers and if you're too young to know it, you will surely experience it all through her busy eyes."
From Dustin Linton: “You're a wonderful person, Susie for devoting yourself to saving animals...some of those pictures on your page made me tear up a little...” From Tierra Chapman: “Animals ARE great healers of humans, aren't they - I hope to see the day when ALL realize this and stop the massacre of these Angels-on-Earth.....” From Hope Ross Dressler: “While reading a barrage of tears made their way down my cheeks. But, I had to stop and smile when Cooper, aka Barky von Shepherd, dropped his baby at my feet and made it known that I was not paying attention to him. It is amazing how our faithful friends mend our hearts. Thank you for sharing!”
From Animal Fanatic: “I came across a notice about this book on facebook. The author is so passionate about animal issues, I figured I would like it. I was surprised to find that the book is about so much more. Clearly animals are Susie's first love, and her care about this subject brought me to tears in a couple of moments. I also thought it was great to read about her hometown though. I liked what she said about classic movies and movie stars too - like James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. I thought this was really fun and easy to read. Meant the world to me to find someone like me.”
From Russ Spencer: “I thought this book was a remarkable set of personal essays told with wit and honesty…I realize we have become a culture in which ‘Twilight’ is high art, but this book is literate and creative and deeply confessional in nature. I feel like I learned a great deal about the author, her upbringing, and how that shapes her current view of today's world. She has a distinct and compelling style (something that should be celebrated in the literary community)…[like] Vonnegut or Twain, Hawthorne or Melville. Folks, it is a collection of first-person essays forming a kind of memoir. There are no ‘characters.’ These are colorful people in the author's life populating an equally colorful town. Like many other classic essayists, Sexton takes a spark from real-life or an overview of a moment in time to use as a lens on some matter of import today. It is a clever approach and should be appreciated for its form and substance. If you like reading cookbooks or gothic horror romances, don't read this book. If you enjoy beloved memories warmly shared and juxtaposed against contemporary perspectives on a world that sometimes seems perilously close to spinning out of control, then you will find this book appropriately challenging, enlightening, and fun.”
Video interviews of Susie & Roy on writing, animals, & small towns!
As I consider myself nothing nor nobody more than Peter Sellers in Being There or at my liveliest as Inspector Clousseau, it is difficult to make “Susie” sound interesting? I am proudest of being the Mother of Roy, whom I consider the person I would most wish to be. I grew up in a very small town, and after having ventured briefly out and away, returned to my roots, be that what it may, and I shall discuss that aspect of my life some other day? I love to rhyme, and I always have time…for stray animals and causes which involve “innocents” being victimized by our self-centered society.
I graduated third in my high school class and happily moved onto college days where some diversity and free-thinking happened at last. I graduated 12th in that university class and won the first ever JOHN R. EMENS award for THE most outstanding senior. Then, I taught for a few years, until Roy was born. I have served as a publicist, a health lecturer and a Sunday School coordinator, and now I am an unpaid columnist sharing nostalgic trips to the past as I have achieved such an old age that no one remains who can question the authenticity of definitive, distinct memories of places, people and events which were very much never what they were ever cracked up to be.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I seem to have been, always and in all ways, inhabiting the observation position rather than leading the way, so I am making up for lost time by recording my thoughts such as they are and once were. Recently having engaged in the wifely capacity of cheering on a male for a mayoral contest, I may finally develop my very first ulcer. I had to hush all my independent thinking and gaze lovingly into space while the world of human nature spun eerily and manically all about myself!
As you can tell, fitting my persona (-ae) into pigeonholes is impossible for me ever to accomplish. Thus, I present to you my biography (RESUME ME ;D ) which has always centered on family…and, by association, watching everybody else wave good-bye to me as those members fly off ... proms, vacations, reproducing themselves right and left, marriages, and the occasional puzzling affiliation.
My favorite play would, of course, be Carson McCullers’ Member of the Wedding (from her novel of the same title) as I have searched for the “We of Me” since toddler days and always come up wanting. In my next life, I shall finally have figured out how to make this world a better place full of tolerance and inclusiveness and understanding for all forms of life—the only prayer I ever pray.
Love you for considering my thoughts important…Susie, In a Sense…a Broad! ;D