"Life is a Great Teacher" by John Mallon

Discuss the May 2015 book of the month, Holding Fire.
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"Life is a Great Teacher" by John Mallon

Post by Scott »

Please use this topic to discuss the seventh story in Holding Fire, "Life is a Great Teacher" by John Mallon.

What do you think of this story? What do you like most about it?

I felt this story has a classic feel to it, especially some of the scenes with the tired sheriff having various intentionally ambiguously worded one-on-ones with the protagonist. It gave me a "Texas Ranger" vibe. The main character is lovable but flawed, which is pleasant to read.

What do you think?
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Post by sahmoun2778 »

The switching back and forth between characters had me a little confused in the beginning, but as I continued the writer's style was apparent. I really enjoyed the steady pace of the story. I think the author did a good job of packing a lot of mystery into a short space and also of creating an intriguing plot line.I loved how all the seemingly random crimes came together at the end.
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Post by memory »

Everything came together nicely in the end but I found the switching back and forth to be very difficult to follow at the beginning. The author tells a good story and it was a quick read that kept my attention.
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Post by bookowlie »

Excellent tale! There was a lot of interesting plot packed into a short story. I liked how the different crimes were connected in a believable way. I didn't mind the switching back and forth between characters, since it kept me intrigued.
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Post by khudecek »

I didn't mind the switching of characters, either. I liked it because it gave me something to look forward to.

At the beginning, I thought Brian had killed someone or had escaped from jail or something with the cops and dogs on his trail. It seemed like an awful lot for someone who had vandalized a car but at that point, the story was just getting started and kept me turning the page. Nice hook.

The author had one line that stood out for me. On page 106 of the paperback, Brian is explaining Rebecca's mother to her and says, "She didn't hate Brian Redmond. She hated Rebecca's husband and it could have been any guy." That hit pretty close to home.

I liked this story a lot.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

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Post by boaz6676 »

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I found the switching between characters allowed for a great read in that it advanced the plot forward while also giving the story multiple perspectives from which to understand the various characters. The small town feel and the persona of the sheriff added the necessary depth to the environment of the story. My only real hesitation with giving this true top marks was a little disappointment in how neatly the story was wrapped up. I thought the ending made it almost too clean and forced Brian into being too good. I think leaving the guilt of stealing the money as a lingering doubt in the minds of the readers could have left more to think about and more room for understanding the complexity of Brian.
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Post by zeldas_lullaby »

I loved this story. The mother-in-law was so psycho that I laughed out loud in a few places. Her random accusation that her son-in-law took a crowbar to her car was hilarious; her assertion that he should be run out of town was equally hilarious; and her crime against him (in bed), while normally not a laughing manner--somehow in this context, hilarious. Maybe because it was so outrageous. And then her reaching toward him with the clawed hands, hilarious. This whole story doesn't seem funny on the surface, but if you look deeper, it's ludicrous. I liked it an awful lot.

I liked the ending--with Brian and the money--because I think he was a good person at heart, and he didn't have to engage in that conversation about the charity that would benefit from the funds. I think he deserved a happy ending, anyway.

Kudos to the author--a great tale you weave!
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Post by debo9967 »

I found this story really really interesting and the plot was quite intriguing.
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Post by avid reader28 »

Well I liked the story, the pace was fairly steady.
and going back and forth with the characters gripped my attention.
It was a fun read.
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Post by calfurshoney »

This story was good. Great characters. It's moved around a lot at first but still kept me interested. It had a great story line. Feel sorry for Rebecca. Tough to have a mother like Sally. But what goes around. Loved the Sheriff! Great knowledge passed on to Brian.
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Post by H0LD0Nthere »

I agree with Scott that it's a classic rural police type tale.

But I am confused.

As far as I can figure out, the sequence of events is this:

1. Sally accidentally hits drifter with her car. Drives off. Hit and run. Drifter dies.
2. Sally proceeds to hire some kid to vandalize her car in order to cover up the evidence of the hit and run. She pays him $200.
3. Kid uses the $200 to buy drugs ... FROM THE DRIFTER WHO HAS ALREADY DIED!!!

Can somebody help me, please? Did he buy the drugs off the guy as he lay dying at the side of the road?

I enjoyed the interconnecting plot, but this discrepancy kept me confused, expecting an even more complicated solution, until the very end, when I ... remained confused.
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Post by zanderlyrose »

I really like the ending. The kindness at the end left me with a smile.
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Post by castor »

I also liked that the two different stories ended up to be interconnected but HOLDONthere is right. There is a discrepancy in the events.
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Post by stacihunsinger »

I did like how this story was laid out. I thought that by switching back and forth between the characters gave you more of an insight as to how the story was progressing. I did not see the ending coming like it did, but that just made the story that much better. Good job!!
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Post by TangledinText »

Life is a Great Teacher I enjoyed. I actually thought it held a bit of humor to it with how assumptions can make a situation worse and everyone had heard stories about crazy mother-in-laws. I loved how it circled back around and completed itself. I enjoyed how it had two different directions at the beginning that blended together perfectly.
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