• Ghosts of Tom Joad for Those with Short Attention Spans

    May 11, 2014

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: #99Percent, Minimum Wage

    Life is distracting, for sure. Social media alone creates new pressures to “keep up,” and the always-on nature of the web and smart phones pulls. To get someone’s attention, stuff needs to be short. Punchy.

    — Bullet points.

    — But not too many.

    Just Ten

    So forget the reviews and long descriptions. Here’s Ghosts of Tom Joad in ten bullet points:

    1) It’s all about this guy named Earl, who lives in Ohio. He and his family stand in for the rest of us, being thumped around by the changing American economy over the last 50 years. They’re symbolically the 99 percent.

    2) If you’re under 35 years old, you’re likely screwed. You’ll never have job security, good benefits or a pension. You can start saving now, but it’ll never be enough. At night the ice weasels will come for your soul.

    3) The book has two (!) sexytime scenes. One is romantic and the other not so much. They symbolize the decline-of-society thing, get it, warm, sweet sex replaced by what we’ll call here commercial sex. Both are long enough you can find them while flipping through the book so you can buy it just for that. Neither are in the online Amazon sample part.

    4) Some parts of the book are funny, in an ironic humor sort of way. There are some actual jokes, like “A guy walks into a bar…” old-timely jokes. They are spoken by old people characters.

    5) Tom Joad was the main character from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. You read it in high school, maybe saw the movie. Some re-read it as Cliff Notes in college to get enough sources and cites into that required essay.

    6) If you get bored reading Ghosts, there are “Hidden Mickeys” or “Easter Eggs” that reference Grapes of Wrath.

    7) The people my fictional character Earl meets in the book are the ghosts. But it’s a double-meaning thingie! You’ll see!

    8 ) There is a surprise ending. But you won’t get it unless you read the whole book ahead of it. I’m sorry you’ll be stuck doing that.

    9) I won’t tell you what the surprise ending is.

    10) The Kindle version is like $7 bucks. Please buy it.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Peter, you should have written a comic book if you wanted to boost sales in the DUMBEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. Speaking of the DCITW:

      “The further Americans thought that Ukraine was from its actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily. Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants’ general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to U.S. interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance U.S. national security interests; all of these effects are statistically significant at a 95 percent confidence level. Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily.”

      05/12/14 11:14 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Sheesh! Peter, what the hell happened to bring on THAT apparently frustrated rant?

      I bought and read “Ghosts of Tom Joad” a couple weeks ago on Kindle, and it didn’t bore or confuse me at all. Should I infer from your above rant, that my understanding is rare or extraordinary?

      If so, then that’s f-cking scary, because your book wasn’t complicated at all. If anything, my main criticism might be that you tried too hard to keep it simple. In particular your device of narrating like a working class guy sounded around five percent inauthentic (because you’re not quite working class), but apparently you know the working class well enough to know how they speak, so it sounded around 95 percent authentic. Which means you sound MORE authentic than the middle class Bob Dylan when he tries to do the same thing. 😉

      And for what it’s worth, as for your book’s possibly perceivable other literary influences, the very end reminded me of the final lines of Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon”. I’m not sure if you were conscious of that when you wrote it, but IF so, then your adaptation of it was appropriately creative and original.

      05/12/14 12:40 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      You read me too well. Yes, that one was born out of frustration. I grow weary of hearing nobody reads fiction, if you don’t have teenage vampires or zombies it’ll never sell, referencing 70 year old books is sales death, too many bad words for high school libraries, not enough bad words for adults, etc. Anyway, as you know, about 99% of the purpose of this blog is my personal therapy, so mission accomplished! Moving on…

      05/12/14 1:03 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Peter, you wrote:

      “Anyway, as you know, about 99% of the purpose of this blog is my personal therapy”…

      …yes but that’s not all of its effects! Some of its effects include a kind of group therapy in which some of us friends of yours participate…

      …but in the RIGHT way, the Anti-Nurse-Ratched Way!
      Let us all say, “To Hell with Nurse Ratched!” And let’s watch the ball game EVEN IF Nurse Ratched revokes our security clearances! 😉


      05/12/14 2:14 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      BTW, Peter, an afterthought re my above reference to “One Flew Over the Cuckook’s Nest”:

      Well, this is a digression from your original post, so perhaps it would be more appropriate for me to send you in a private email – but then I think, no, this really IS relevant to your original post! So here it is:

      Some years ago when I was teaching a university course in American Literature, I directly compared “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to the late, great William Styron’s “Sophie’s Choice” which as you might know was about Auschwitz. And my summary comparison of those two great American novels of the mid-20th century, was basically as follows = although now I’m going to paraphrase what I said in my lecture – but basically I said:

      “In the Cuckoo’s Nest, in the Insane Asylum, almost everyone who was there was there voluntarily. No one forced them to go into the Insane Asylum where they gave up their freedom. But then after enough people voluntarily give up their freedom, in the long run they end up in Auschwitz, either as prisoners or collaborators.”

      Cf, another scene from Cuckoo’s Nest, here’s the one where McMurphy – an INvoluntarily committed man! – discovers that almost everyone else in the mental hospital is there voluntarily:


      05/12/14 2:38 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      And one more PS for now, Peter et al…

      …re my above comments, and the Cuckoo’s Nest scene of “I want my cigarettes, Nurse Ratched!”…

      …presently I’m smoking a Dunhill, and THIS song is about MY cigarettes! (And a shout-out to Pitchfork!):


      05/12/14 2:47 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote:” (And a shout-out to Pitchfork!):”unquote

      Indeed. I’ll have you know I met him personally. In fact, as a guitarist in a concert club house band in the late 80’s, I backed him up for a 2 hour show. He actually blew my mind at the time. This particular song was a nationwide hit, but didn’t really showcase his singing talent. He actually laughed about this song, as he only recorded it as a fluke. Real gentleman too.

      Hey Peter..I’m sorry I haven’t had time to read your book yet. Really swamped right now. Like I told you, I had been preparing for a show with a friend of mine. After not playing for almost 15 years. Geezus. Learning 50 songs in 3 weeks while trying to loosen up fingers that felt like a rusty hinge left in the ocean, well it took all my time. Gig turned out great…for 2 old farts. 🙂 Anyway, I’ll have some time later this week. Looking forward to it.

      05/12/14 4:24 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      btw.. here’s a “shout out” to melove too..


      with all due respect of course.

      05/12/14 4:30 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      ps..me love.that was in regards to MY life…

      05/12/14 4:32 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      ps …which was the Night Life…


      05/12/14 4:37 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...


      Suggested titles for your next book:

      “Kim Kardashian Got A Big Ole Butt”

      “Discovering Feminist Spirituality Through Borderline Personality Disorder” (plagiarised from Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”)

      “How The State Department Taught Me To Improve My Social Skills”

      “Torture and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”

      “Fuck the Poor”

      05/13/14 7:19 AM | Comment Link

    Leave A Comment

    Mail (will not be published) (required)