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The Drool Room - River Foyle Press
A child struggling with dyslexia, ADHD, and family problems battles his way to adulthood in this remarkable novel-in-stories.
from reviewer Kurt Ochshorn:
"One cannot easily dismiss the iconic similarities between the cover of The Drool Room and Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. The starkly lit classroom, at once familiar yet ominous with all the fears that a young child holds about going into the strange world and Kubrick's fluorescent vision of terror. Terror doesn't hide in the dark here- as with little Danny, it's in the mind, front and center.
"And like Danny's infamous, "redrum" with it's dyslexic construction and backwards letters, The Drool Room's cover title lets you know that this is a child's terror. But where Danny had Tony, his imaginary friend who lived in his mouth and from whom he took his direction, our protagonist here, unnamed throughout, runs mostly solo through the suburban grid of New Rochelle.
"That this story unfolds in the town of Rob and Laura Petrie, a modest bedroom community, places more onus on the breakdown of this life. This isn't the wretched slums of the inner city nor the dire simplicity of rural poverty. The suburbs should be a place of sheltered nurturing... there are parks, trees and beautiful schools. Socol treats the
splendor of middle class life like drugs. Parks become secret hideouts to escape abuse. In fact, much of the first half of the book is an architectural tour... We get descriptions of these place as if they were a French jail from
Frank Abagnale's Catch Me if You Can."
from: The Tower (chapter 2)
Mr. Hamilton was not a bad guy. Not in any way. He taught ninth grade American History to a class filled with wounded and hopeless children who occupied almost adult bodies. What do you do with a room like that? Almost thirty kids, all but three boys, the best of whom were the ones with no chance at all, the IQs below 80. We knew who they were. We knew all about each other’s problems. The worst of whom, like me, were smart enough to be dangerous, frustrated enough to get viciously angry, who’s issues seemed to make us hopeless but, well, good people always think that if they could just, then maybe, and things would be different. Mr. Hamilton, I think, was good people.
On a Thursday I got into a fight just before class with Eric Chapel. This was unfair. Eric was bigger than me but way slower, both physically and mentally. I shouldn’t of been getting into it with him at all. But I was already more than a year into the drift, drunk already, and very on edge, and he said something like, “You think you’re better than me, but you’re just another retard.” It’s always the truth that gets you. This got me, and I hit him. I hurt him.
Mr. Hamilton grabbed me. He had to. But then he made his mistake. He trusted me. Because I actually said something about history once a week. Because if he talked to me one-on-one he could get me almost interested in his subject. Because he was fascinated by my love of maps, especially maps of obscure places and times. Because he thought I had some kind of potential. Because of all of those things he let go of me and tried reason.
There wasn’t an immediate reaction. Later, the Psychiatrist told me that if my reaction had been immediate many might have been more likely to excuse what happened next. Maybe. I don’t know. At first, everybody agrees – I listened. Two witnesses said I was on the verge of tears. Mary Caprone said I was crying. Danny Moradini was the only one I know of who said that if you’d been watching my hands, and not my face, “Your face was totally fuckin’ blank dude,” he’d said, you’d’ve known exactly what was going to happen.
Mr. Hamilton was hunting for words. He found the wrong ones. He said, “You’ve just got to try harder.” I remember that. So did others. That was the trigger. The worst thing I think you can say. Though even now it is hard to describe why. And I cold-cocked him. One punch. Catching him totally by surprise. A really terrible attack.
Mr. Schiavone was already on his way - he’d heard about the first fight - and was coming to smack me and suspend me. That was the pattern. He’d slap you really hard in public, then grab you by the ear if you were smaller or bend your arm behind your back if you were bigger, and walk you to his office. The publicness of it all being the educational element. In his office he’d hit you again. Then call your parent. Then suspend you. Sometimes he’d hit you again once more before you left.
But that was for small stuff. I was way past small stuff. So at that moment, Mr. Schiavone landed his full body on mine, driving me in a pro-wrestling move back into the blackboard, the chalk tray cutting into me so deeply the bruise took five months to completely fade. Then he grabbed me, slammed my head against the wall, then punched me, breaking my nose. He never approached Mr. Hamilton. He left that for someone else. Then he bent my right arm behind me and dragged me off, not to his office this time, but up three flights of stairs to the top floor of the tower.