Can a story be both funny and somber? Yes, if one writes it as well as this book is written. Like any book about a substance abuser (Red Dale Ray has a drinking problem, and no, I'm not spoiling the plot as that's obvious from the get-go), there's a serious undercurrent of loss and risk. But this book is also insightful--and it's funny. The main character might be Red Dale Ray, but the scene stealer is Wally the moose, who is just being a bull moose, but one with more attitude that a tom cat on the prowl. No one is really bad in this book, though people in it make bad choices. There's a host of quirky characters whose interactions supply the story with wit and energy, with a hint of "Cheers" and "Northern Exposure" in terms of tone. This is one to read and enjoy.
I want to thank the author and publisher for an opportunity to read this book through a giveaway. At first I didn't know what to think about the title but as you go along it makes sense. The book is like that also. The story is about an alcoholic who owns a bar. Like every bar there are the usual and unusual regulars. At the beginning it seems the book will be about the bar and the clientele but as you go along you realize it is about the owner, Ray, and his struggles in life. It is the story of an alcoholic. The book is a great read.
This book was really funny. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a light read at the end of the day. It made me laugh more than any book I have read in a long time.
I enjoyed this book. Not only was it a fun read, the author used a unique approach narrating the story. Clear prose and well-rounded characters. Recommended for readers who want to kick back with an easy read to escape their hectic day.
I grew up in an out of the way place. After college, I moved to NYC, Chicago and Atlanta. This book was like coming home for me. It had everyone I grew up with and they were battling with demons we all have. Thank you for the great book!
Ray Bowler wants to downsize, sell Hilda’s, his failing bar, and hit the road in his Red Dale Ray camper trailer. Ray’s only problem, however, isn’t negotiating his camper’s tiny shower or keeping it jacked up in the mud when the rains hit.
Trouble begins when a city slicker named Bonnie walks in looking to slick Ray out of Hilda’s. After an evening of hard drinking, Bonnie falls drunk into her bar peanuts. From there, Ray’s life goes downhill. From first sentence onward, Deb’s wonderfully wry, laid-back humor in Red Dale Ray is delivered mostly through Ray Bowler’s point-of-view.
If you like feisty, quirky characters and a book-length dollop of easy-going and entertaining humor, you’ll love Red Dale Ray. Not only does Deb handle her humor well, but she also plans exciting twists and surprises for readers, as the tension over whether or not Ray is going to sell his bar escalates. Within the small world of Menta and the nearby campground, where all the cast of Red Dale Ray reside, author Deb Cunningham presents all the elements of well-crafted humor—and more.
Deb’s plotting drives us to anticipate Ray’s next decision. Wouldn’t you know, his desire to simplify his life turns out to be the road less traveled. Deb explores her theme, which is the escapist goal of many I-don’t-give-a-moose-pie, aging boomers seeking inner peace through their outward journey. However, we discover, interestingly, that Deb’s Red Dale Ray is more than a simple tale of Ray’s desire to sell his bar and hit the road. It’s a witty allegory of Ray’s, and thus everyman’s, obstacle-driven flight into the depths of alcoholism—and the path to escape.
Is there a hero in Red Dale Ray? You bet your Eddie Bauer sleeping bag, there is. Ray is beset not only by his own demons, but also by forces outside his control, and isn’t that, after all, part of the challenge of finding inner peace? He’s dealing with a life trashed by alcohol, divorce, a culture that’s bypassed him, and by the decline of Hilda’s due to the rise of nearby micro-breweries. So, essentially, he’s losing everything: wife, bar, income, self-respect.
Yet Ray steps up. He’s real, like courageous people we meet every day. In the case of his estranged wife, who colludes with Patty the bartender to lure more business to Hilda’s (wait ‘til you find out how!), we’d like to avoid Ray’s ex, yet we’re drawn to cheer for her, too, as we are many of Deb’s characters who collude against Ray, yet who are his sole system of support.
Deb’s terrifically funny but flawed characters, coupled with her witty humor, propels us through the daily grind of Ray’s alcoholism, with Ray deep in denial as he negotiates life on his escapist fringe and runs Hilda’s from his camper. Because Deb moves us laughing and cheering into Ray’s world and his struggle with his pain, we cheer for him. We care about him because his demise is that of many we recognize. Deb’s humor connects us not only to story and characters, but also to the larger demise of all alcoholics, Via Ray’s laid-back humor, yet his very poignant circumstances.
Even as he deals with all the quirky folks in his life, and works his way toward the sale of Hilda’s, we know Ray’s facing an uphill battle. Question is, is Ray up for it? Will he win?
Humor is Deb’s forte. Readers will enjoy her humorous picture of clashing views on whether or not Ray should sell out and hit the road. Adding another layer, she drops in an intractable moose called “Wally” (Ray’s totem), who helps Teresa and Patty lure in the tourists to Hilda’s. Secretly posting Wally’s personal life via an Internet channel called “Wally Cam,” Patty and Teresa invite all to come see Wally and buy Wally “merch.” To Ray’s chagrin, they come, upending Ray’s vision of life!
What endears Ray to us most of all is his awareness of Wally as a force of nature, not a silly manufactured attraction for city slickers. We’re with Ray: Wally’s his own . . . er . . . person, and should remain so. Bingo! Deb’s story has a deep underlying current of pathos that looks askance, via Ray’s character, at the drive of today’s world to make a buck, the same drive that is the destruction of Ray’s bar—and his life. Deb presents this theme of tragic irony with great humor; thus, just like Ray, we want to yell at the tourists, “Get back on your freakin’ tour bus and leave Wally—and “bull headed” Ray—Alone.
Deb entertains with her insight into the human condition, and propels us with it through Red Dale Ray at a steady pace, and provides a satisfying conclusion. In the end, she leaves us with the story’s lesson, as Ray pursues recovery in a trailer park with other alcoholics. And finally, Deb pulls final plot threads together with more surprises, while maintaining her delightfully humorous writing style and grasp of her characters’ relationship dynamics in Red Dale Ray.
The book is very good. It reminds me somewhat of the movie "About Schmidt"or "Gone Fishing." If you enjoy those kinds of stories, then this is the book for you. It gave me some perspective into the eyes of an older gentleman, where he is at a crossroads to make a major decision. It is definitely a good read.