Book Review: The Basics of Rubber

The Basics of Rubber: Amblings and Selected Short Stories by Lawrence Rose

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here we have a collection of stories that offer a range of insights on topics from contraband flown in from Colombia to Florida, just not at all what one expects (and no spoilers here, although this reader wondered if Viagra may have been a better choice! Or perhaps a stool-softener? Or could that be Shonda?).

We move on to the quintessential object of U.S. capitalistic imperialism: Bananas. Who knew there was such an intense interest in them? The author could have included their uniformity in U.S. markets, despite the variety grown elsewhere, and the reasons for this, (thank you ever so much United Fruit Company.

Good rendition of the SF haunted house, and here again this reader wondered why no mention of Carlotta Monterey, O’Neal’s long-time paramour?

The pieces cover all kinds of subjects & geographies from cow-chip tossing contests in Oklahoma, to geology in ‘Cutthroat Gap,’ to a seeming version of the Scopes trial with the admonition to ‘never sleep with the attendance lady.’

We move on to northern France, and a study of WW1 battlefields, and then a kind of scavenger hunt for Dan Brown, and how that author’s literary works have upended the once bucolic countryside now overrun with Brown-artifact seeking tourists.

Through the individual works we get a sense that the author has a deep understanding of each topic, along with a misty nostalgia for a long ago past that once saw him ranging these very landscapes, making love with these very women, and drinking life to its top.

In the final, eponymous essay, a German operative ‘Crazy Heinie’ seeks to destroy the world through a monopolistic scheme centered on rubber of all things. ‘When you’re out to destroy the world, someone’s going to hear about it.’ Indeed. And then write about it. The Basics of Rubber: Amblings and Selected Short Stories

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