Twice Upon A Prequel And Three Shorts by Derald W. Hamilton opens with two prequels: “The Astonishing Elmo Piggins” and “The Rebirth of Reginald Dexter.” Readers of Hamilton’s earlier book The Call will remember Elmo Piggins, the preacher’s son who completed his undergraduate work in three years and Reginald Dexter, the older Unitarian Seminarian. The three shorts are: “Taken Up Before the General,” “The War Comes Home” and “A Litter Bit of Wisdom.”
Elmo’s story details his childhood and adolescence growing up as a pastor’s son. Pastor Elwood Piggins is obsessed by a discipline standard determined by the expectations of the church members and the men on the deacon board. Elmo fits this model outwardly as he observes the wild rebellious antics of his older sister and the resultant punishment which triggered her decision to leave home. After his graduation from high school, Elmo joins the Navy.
While at sea, Elmo experiences a spiritual awakening similar to the Apostle Paul’s on the Road to Damascus. It’s a new beginning for Elmo, which leads to his enrollment at Parkins Theological Seminary.
Reginald Dexter’s story is of a tenured psychology professor forced to retire, advised by his friend, a pastor, to take risks, begin a new life, and find fulfillment.
Derald W. Hamilton skillfully crafts the art of satire to draw attention to the inconsistencies of obsession for dogma in the church, rigidness in academia, and pomp and parade in the military. His pointed humor clearly gets the attention of the reader, identifies the problem, and plants a seed for change. His characterizations are flawless as he contrasts the graduate-degreed pastor with the fiery charismatic preacher possessed by power of delivery but no formal training.
Although I frequently got glimpses of myself and my unique and “miniscule” flaws, I felt on occasion that the author sacrificed his mission to the point of losing the segment of a potential audience that he may be hoping to change. Anyone offended by an unwarranted repletion of profanity may look at Hamilton’s approach as irreverent or to be a personal vendetta resulting from his own personal disillusionment.
Twice Upon A Prequel And Three Shorts by Derald W. Hamilton is cutting-edge satire for contemporary readers.
(Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views)