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Lancelot Schaubert
Bell Hammers

PRANKS. OIL. PROTEST. JOKES BETWEEN NEWLYWEDS. AND ONE HILARIOUS SIEGE OF A MAJOR CORPORATION. Remmy grows up with Beth in Bellhammer, Illinois as oil and coal companies rob the land of everything that made it paradise. Under his Grandad, he learns how to properly prank his neighbors, friends, and foes. Remmy starts the Bell Hammer Construction Company, which depends on contracts from Texaco Oil. And Beth argues with him about how to build a better business. Together, Remmy and Beth start to build a great neighborhood of "merry men" carpenters: a paradise of s’mores, porch furniture, newborn babies, and summer trips to Branson where their boys pop the tops of off the neighborhood’s two hundred soda bottles. Their witty banter builds a kind of castle among a growing nostalgia.

Then one of Jim Johnstone’s faulty Texaco oil derricks falls down on their house and poisons their neighborhood's well.

Poisoned wells escalate to torched dog houses. Torched dog houses escalate to stolen carpentry tools and cancelled contracts. Cancelled contracts escalate to eminent domain. Sick of the attacks from Texaco Oil on his neighborhood, Remmy assembles his merry men:

"We need the world's greatest prank. One grand glorious jest that'll bloody the nose of that tyrant. Besides, pranks and jokes don't got no consequences, right?"

Schaubert recounts a mischievous man's eight decades in Illinois's Little Egypt region in his rambling picaresque debut. In 1941, six-year-old Wilson "Remmy" Remus cuts the tension in his classroom following news of the attack on Pearl Harbor by peeing in a bucket, launching a life of constant schemes and pranks and a lifelong feud with classmate Jim Johnstone, whose notebook was splashed in the act. Told in snapshots, the narrative recounts stories of Remmy unleashing pigs in the high school, dumping cow manure for neighborhood kids to play in, and deploying devious punishments for his children, such as sending his 15-year-old daughter on a circuitous Greyhound ride after she complains during a family vacation. He starts a home-building company with an eye on building a Camelot for a band of friends, but his plans run afoul of the local oil drilling company Jim works for. After a storm fells a derrick on his land and pollutes the well water, his petty squabbles with Jim ramp up. The aftermath of a particularly foolhardy prank in 1977 involving some makeshift medieval weaponry proves consequential. While the hodgepodge of anecdotes doesn't offer much in the way of plot, the tone of this particular old man's reminiscences about his greatest hits has some appeal. At its best, this is a hoot. (Self-published)
Colby Williams, author of the Axiom Gold Medal winning book Small Town, Big Mone

“Myth, regret, the lore of our heritage and the subtle displays of our castes — no one so accurately and imaginatively captures the joys and sorrows of life in the Midwest as Schaubert does here. BELL HAMMERS is a Tree Grows in Brooklyn as told by Gabriel Garcia Marquez if Marquez lived in rural Illinois and only told stories to his grandkids. Seriously a delight to read.”

Dr. Anthony Cirilla, Boethius + Literature scholar

“BELL HAMMERS is written in a style not unworthy of John Kennedy Toole and William Faulkner – the vivid characterization of Southern ethnography commingled with stark, episodic spectacle breathes with the spirit of quintessential Americana. It is a text I would happily assign in an American Novel class and would expect it to yield satisfying discourse alongside works in the canon, whether beside the sardonic prose of Mark Twain or the energetically painful narratives of Toni Morrison.”

Erika Robuck, national bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl

“Schaubert’s words have an immediacy, a potency, an intimacy that grab the reader by the collar and say, ‘Listen, this is important!’ Probing the bones and gristle of humanity, Lancelot’s subjects challenge, but also offer insights into redemption if only we will stop and pay attention.”

Natalie Gee, Brooklyn Film Festival

“Schaubert’s narratives are emotionally stirring with both a vulnerable sensibility and rawness to them. BELL HAMMERS will take you on a journey full of open wounds, intimate successes and personal delights. Lancelot’s words have a calmness, a natural ease but the meaning is always commanding and dynamic.”

The New Haven Review

“Loved BELL HAMMERS because Lancelot wrote about people who don’t get written about enough and he did it with humor, compassion, and heart.”