Stephan Jaramillo, Going Postal (Berkley Publishing Group, 1996)

We all know that there are bad days. Steve Reeves (not the famed Superman actor, he's quick to mention) is having one. After a trip to see his parents in Southern California for his pregnant sister's wedding (a disaster in and of itself), his girlfriend breaks up with him, his job takes a turn for the worse, and his crazy friends are of no comfort at all.

Jaramillo's novel -- his first -- is a romp thorugh the mind and life of a twenty-something college boy slacker. His depiction of fellow slacker friends and a long line of postal worker relatives only serves to drive the point home -- when things can't get any worse...they usually do.

Overall, this is a character-driven novel, which works, precisely for the wit and humor that Jaramillo is able to distill from the everyday experiences which, to some, would be just everyday experiences. The chapter entitled "Grandma was an Anti-Semite," for instance, will leave the reader in stitches before the end of the first page. Who among us can not relate to calling that one crazy relative for money? Jaramillo captures not only the hilarity of the situation, but immortalizes a character that will return to inspire giggles days later.

The ending of the novel is a bit abrupt -- and this is my only complaint. Because the book is so driven by character, the ending seems to have been "tacked on," so to speak, to resolve the unended plot threads. However, even a weakish ending can't diminish the rest of the work. Jaramillo's humor carries it through.

Semi-autobiographical in nature, according to the author, Going Postal is a book well-worth the cost, even if only to distract the reader from the goings-on in his own life for a few hours.

[ by Elizabeth Badurina ]

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