Crusader Rabbit by Jess Mowry, 1988
The magic trick:
Shocking the reader with the nature of Jeremy’s role in the story
Man, I read this at the beach on my honeymoon – making me both an idiot and a jerk. Must be nice to lounge around while the characters in this story dig through trash searching for recyclables to pray for their heroin habit.
So, leaving that odd juxtaposition, let’s consider the actual story. Its premise is shocking. It doesn’t show its hand immediately but rather unfolds the facts of the situation gradually. The moment the reader realizes Jeremy’s role in the action, well, it’s enough to make you put the book down for a minute. Incredibly painful stuff. You might argue the story peaks at that moment, too soon in the narrative, but that’s OK. The situation is enough to sustain the story. And that’s quite a trick on Mowry’s part.
Raglan finished making his cigarette, fired it with a Bic, handed the lighter to the boy, then began to roll another as he smoked. His eyes were still far away.
Jeremy looked up as he worked. “I know your old name. I seen it on your driver license. Why’s your street name Raglan?”
Smoke drifted from Raglan’s nostrils. He came close to smiling. “My dad started callin’ me that. It’s s’posed to be from some old-time cartoon, when he was just a little kid. ‘Crusader Rabbit.’ I never seen it. The rabbit’s friend was a tiger. Raglan T. Tiger. Maybe they was somethin’ like the Ninja Turtles, had adventures. It was a long time ago.”
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