Friday, November 21, 2008

a review of Rocket Man

Rocket Man by William Elliott Hazelgrove

Dale Hammer has two goals, to achieve his version of the American Dream and to be nothing like his father. But it seems both goals are about to come crashing down around his ears.

He is a successful writer ...that hasn't been able to write anything in years.
He has a job as a loan broker that barely pays the bills...and he is about to lose it.
He is a husband...who suspects his wife might be having an affair and is about to leave him.
He is a father...whose son seems to hate him and will barely talk to him.
and yes...he is a son...a son whose father was never there when Dale and his brother were kids and is now living in Dale's garage, jobless and thrown out by his latest wife.
The police are after him for supposedly cutting down the entry sign to the million dollar home development he lives in. The million dollar home he can't afford.
And finally, he has signed up to be the “Rocket Man”, the man in charge of setting up and launching the many, many rockets at the the boy scouts annual rocket show. It is a job everyone, including himself, thinks he will make a colossal mess of.

Yes, Dale is having a very bad week.

His dad sums it up pretty well.
“You are a smart man. You are smarter than me. You read more books. You are your mom used to laugh at me and how dumb I was, I know that.” he nod, examining his cigar. “But I had to go make a living and bring up my family and as smart as you are Dale, you haven't figured out how to do that. You sitting here in your big house with neighbors you can't stand, in your fucked-up financial situation, and your wife about to kick your ass right out the door. So who's the smart on, Kingfisher?”

Or then there is his wife...
”You always had to rebel, but you are forty-six now Dale. You are not the truculent artist anymore; you are just the middle aged fuck-up!”

Or the guy at his old coffee shop...
”You know, I heard a weird rumor about you. I heard you had moved to the suburbs. Someone said you had bought some big fucking house way in the middle of nowhere....but you know what I said, I said, 'Nah. He'd never fucking do that. Turn tail and run I mean. He's not that kind of guy.”

But Dale is starting to realize he is exactly that sort of guy, it seems. He is “the poor boy looking in the keyhole, wondering when I will be discovered.”

You might have noticed something else as well...the language of this book is a wee bit strong. Personally, I stopped noticing it after awhile, but it such things, the frequent use of the “F” word among others, offend you, well, then you might have an issue with this book.
And if you are the sort of reader {{who me?}} that likes to yell at the characters in books and movies, to just open their eyes and do something, well, then you might have a problem with Dale too, because he does tend to dither about.
But..that being said..there is something very likable about Dale and you do finding yourself pulling for him. He loves his wife and he loves his kids and he wants to make it right.
“I can justify just about anything really, crime, embezzlement, knocking down old ladies, but I just can't find the neat rationalization for hurting my children. Every great liar meets his match eventually, and I cannot save myself on that score.”

But will he be able to fix it all somehow, or will he just give up and run off, like he sometimes dreams of?
Well, let's say it come to an explosive end.

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it with some reservations. It's well written, with some great characters, but not everyone might enjoy it's rather dark, cynical sense of humor and it might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Rocket Man available here from Amazon


  1. We seem to be reading the same books. I liked this book, but I didn't like the way the family members treated each other.

  2. lol...well, I am pretty sure the book I am reading now you are not reading. I wonder if there are any other copies on LT...hmmmm...

    As to the family...well, yes, I remember you saying that in your review. Personally, I can totally undersatnd it. Not saying it is ideal, but it is real.
    I guess it shows we have a slighly difference family experience.

  3. Just in case you didn't catch my reply to your comment over on my blog, I thought I'd sneak over here. I think I'll send you an email reminder everyday so you don't forget about Echoes From the Dead...LOL

  4. thanks.
    I put it on my Amazon wish list, which I thought showed a lot of restraint. Well, as compared to hitting the buy button...

    Hello, my name is Cait and I am a book addict...


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