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Monday, July 27, 2009

Don't Call Me A Crook!

Don't Call Me A Crook!: A Scotsman's
Tale of World Travel, Whiskey, and Crime

by Bob Moore
255 pages

*** About the Book ***

I first learned about this book from Online Publicist. Here's the summary from her site:
Bob Moore [of Glasgow, Scotland] was a marine engineer, building superintendent, and moonshine runner [in the 1920s]. He traveled throughout the U.S., Australia, Egypt, South America, Japan, and China. He also conned women, fought with pirates on the Yangtze, and set a coffee shop ablaze. [His book] is picaresque, perverse, and darkly funny. With its unforgettable characters and strange plot twists, it reads more like a novel than a memoir. Originally published in 1935, Don't Call Me a Crook! is a mysterious and overlooked treasure. No critics reviewed it. To date, only four holders of original editions have been identified. Only a handful of people seem to have ever known of the book.
Intriguing, no? You can see why I immediately accepted the offer of a review copy.

*** My Thoughts ***

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading but I rather enjoyed this book. The author's voice was unique - somewhat dry, very ironic, and occasionally quite funny. It is almost as if you are sitting at a bar with Bob and he is telling you his life story, jumping from adventure to adventure, place to place, all with the purpose of entertaining you.

Bob seemed to me to be a product of the times. Only during Prohibition could many of his adventures have occurred, and only in an era before computers. But more importantly, Bob's opinions and prejudices seemed stereotypical of this era, at least as I understand it. In his worldview rich and white is better than poor and white is better than Hispanic is better than Black ... and on down the line. Obviously this is not an admirable belief system, but I think it typifies what most people believed.

If you can read this book without judging Bob at every turn then you will likely enjoy this slice-of-crazy-life memoir. I'll admit there were times when I couldn't believe the things he said or did (how COULD you treat people that way?!) but on the whole I enjoyed the book.

*** Some Quotes ***

To give you an idea of Bob's dry, understated sense of humor and his rather unique moral code, here are a few quotes from the book.

Speaking of an acquaintance who was jailed along with him for something they didn't do, Bob says:
I really felt more sorry for him than I did for my own predicament because I think it must be a worry to lose your reputation, but that is never a thing that I have had to bother about because I have never had any reputation to lose.
At another point Bob complains about the system of lending money in America.
You see it is very difficult about owing people money in America. It is not like it is in England, where if you cannot pay it back all a man can do is issue a summons against you. In America a man can come right at you with two detectives, and if you do not find the money at once they take you away to gaol. That is one respect in which I do not think America is a good a country as England, because how is a man to get on if he cannot borrow money when he is hard up, and it is silly to arrest him for not paying back, because if he had enough to pay back he would not need to borrow any.
See what I mean? You've got to love his logic ...

*** Other Links ***

I've only seen a few reviews of this book so far, but I expect more will turn eventually. In the meantime, check out these bloggers' opinions:
If you've reviewed this book I'm happy to add your link here.


Lit and Life said...

This does sound intriguing and unique. And unique is good for me--keeps me reading.

Heather J. said...

lit and life - Yes, unique is the perfect word.

bermudaonion said...

The reviews for this one seem to be all over the place. I'm not sure if it's for me or not, but I'm glad you liked it.

Literary Feline said...

It certainly sounds like a fascinating story. Very tempting . . . :-)

Nymeth said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Heather! I know the book's not actually very long, but it would have worked better for me if it had been shorter. I had enough of Bob after a while :P

Anna said...

Glad to see you enjoyed this one. I've seen mixed reviews. I'm not sure it's my cup 'o tea, as based on the quotes you included and others I've seen around, I do think I like his writing style. Thanks for the review.

Diary of an Eccentric

Anna said...

I really should proofread. I meant to say I don't think I like his writing style.

Diary of an Eccentric

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