WSBG reviews Had a Good Time by Robert Olen Butler


We in the World’s Smallest Book Group picked this book because all of us so enjoyed the earlier one by this author we read many years ago.  Good Scent from a Strange Mountain.  Wonderful stories of Vietnamese immigrants to the U.S.  Gentle culture.  Sweet characters.  Strange new land.  Interesting results.

This book (subtitle is Stories from American Postcards) seemed promising.  Fascinating premise.  Collect old picture postcards and write a short story based on the photo on the front and personal message on the back of the postcard.  

For example, the first story is based on this postcard and describes strange and interesting encounters between two men from different ends of the class spectrum in early 20th century America.  
SamplepostcardThe second story comes up with an explanation for why there is a postcard with a woman standing in a World War I trench with the handwritten label  “Mother in the trenches.” 

First few stories really worked, made us admire the approach.  Good writing. Got very tedious after that.  Seemed to become gimmicky and almost became a parody of itself by the end of the book.   

Conclusion:  should have remained a short story!  Expect Powell’s won’t buy back.  I think I got it from the remainder table…  should have been a clue!


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