Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tom Weakley's The Stories

Stories written by Vermont Storyteller Tom Weakley

Available for $19.95 + $5.95 shipping and handling from

Reviewed by Linda Goodman
I have been a big fan of Tom Weakley's gentle wisdom and homespun humor ever since I first saw him at the Three Apples Storytelling Festival in Harvard, Massachusetts in the early 1990's. His CDs RFD Vermont and Harry and the Texaco Boys are favorites of mine.

Weakley retired from performing in 2008, and I was sad to hear that. His delicious stories, though, will live on, not only on his CDs, but also in his new book The Stories, published by Highland Publications. His words paint images so exquisite that I stopped to read them over and over until I could do instant replays in my head. Reading them was like watching the Andy Griffith Show, but Weakley's version of the fictional Mayberry has a dark side.

Esther, as near perfect a ghost story as I have ever heard, is the eerie story of a ghost trying to make amends for a tragic accident. In the heartbreaking Sleeping Outside Eden, a father and grandfather bid farewell to a lost loved one at the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC. Adrift on the Alfalfa Sea shares the lonely life of an aging storyteller and dares to voice the words that every professional storyteller has pondered: “As she came to look forward to the money she began to worry that her talent mightn't last as long as she did. What would be the first to go, she wondered. The voice? The stories? Maybe her memory. If I can just concentrate, she thought, maybe I can postpone its coming.” What horrifying, but completely logical, thoughts for an elder who makes a living spinning tales!

Humor is also evident in Weakley's stories. Two Pickpockets, Directions, and The Good Lookin' Suit provoke belly laughs to counter balance the more serious stories.

Teen angst is evident in Do You Love Me Mary Olson?. In Tommy, a young boy learns a hard lesson about coming when called. An unfaithful husband lives to regret his betrayal in The Raspberry Affair.

There are a total of twenty stories in this book, each one a gem. Stories told use eye contact, facial expressions, voice, body language, and movement to make you see what words alone do not express. These stories use just words so effectively and artistically that we see in our minds every element that oral story presents. Tom Weakley is a fabulous storyteller who has performed on the main stage at the National Storytelling Festival, and deservedly so. As fine a storyteller as he is, however, he is an even more gifted writer. Like Pat Conroy, he paints pictures that we have all seen, but in such a way that we relive the moments simultaneously as we read them.

Christmas is coming. If you have story lovers or book lovers on your list, this book is the perfect gift for them. Please buy this book!