Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Last night I read another sixty pages of Balls! Tough going, it was nowhere near as exciting as Joey Kowal’s lengthy Ponce de León-like quest for extension cords.

Having reached page 239, I have a horrible feeling that I’ve read the last of the Kowal clan. Still, I hold out hope. After all, is there not something magical in their journey? Consider Joey’s station wagon, which can burrow “like a huge mole”. What of the enchanted snowdrift that envelopes the Kowals, protecting them from the horrors and cold of the outside world? How long before the White Witch makes an appearance? How about Mr and Mrs Beaver? Tumnus is sure to alert Aslan to their plight.

I don’t mean to go all Edmund here, but I’m grappling with a loss of faith. Pray forgive me for thinking Harvard Law School graduate Joey Kowal is a dim bulb.

  • Though Joey and his kin are secure, if uncomfortable, in his parents’ duplex - the one they bought in 1950 (p.69), the one they’d decided to buy (p.70), the one with the price that was right (p. 70), the one they chose to buy (p. 70) – he believes that the best course of action is to leave.
  • Faced with the worst winter storm in Buffalo’s history, he decides to take to the road in an overloaded station wagon carrying five adults and two infants (intending to pick up Papa Joe along the way).
  • Though there is “gasoline rationing in Buffalo and throughout the United States”, Joey thinks he’ll be just fine with half a tank.
  • Lawyer Joey decides on a southern route to Florida (1775 km), even though Canada - which is untouched by the TransState Gas Distribution Corporation cut-off is just a couple of kilometres to the west.

I lived in Toronto for four years, and it’s just shy of six since I moved to St Marys, yet I’ve still not visited Buffalo (a mere 2 ½ hours south-east). I now know to wait until spring. Here are other things I’ve learned about the city from Balls!:
  • All buildings in Buffalo – be they detached Victorian Italianate, mid-20th-century condo, high school or government edifice - are heated by natural gas. No oil. No electricity, either.
  • Not one residence in Buffalo features a fireplace. Houses have no insulation and paper thin exterior walls.
  • Water freezes more quickly in Buffalo than it does in the rest of the world.
  • Buffalo’s electrical grid is second to none.

Here are a few other things I've learned through Balls!:
  • Should disaster befall an area between Election Day and Inauguration Day it falls on the President-Elect to declare a state of emergency.
  • The United States National Weather Service provides thirty-day forecasts.
  • One thing more boring than reading a travel itinerary is an account of how same came together. 
  • Smoking is bad.
  • Conservationists are emotional.
  • Sam Richardson is black.

Just over one hundred pages remain.

1 comment:

  1. The last 100 pages of Balls! will make you yearn for the Gabrielle Roy-like social realism of the Kowals family and their fuse box.