“Awjeezma!” was the universal dissent, whined—repeatedly if necessary—at an unreasonable mother who wanted the vacuuming done now-not-next-year or a pile of encrusted dishes washed or the sputtering heater refueled. “Awjeezma! Do I gotta?” “If I have to tell you one more time—” “Awjeezma! Awright! Jeez!”
Through the telling of his own madcap childhood, David Benjamin pays homage to the exuberance of countless untamed boys who grew up in Middle America in the 1950s. Whether he’s stalking frogs through the bogs of Tomah, Wisconsin, playing four-kid baseball with his bothersome little brother and two favorite cousins, or sneaking into the theater to watch Saturday afternoon Westerns, Benjamin is the kind of little kid who eagerly would have fallen in with the redoubtable Tom Sawyer.
His tales—including one about a truly sorry incident with Snappy, the snapping turtle, and another about a run-in with a particularly fiendish squirrel—are by turns hysterically funny, caustic, aggrieved, and movingly sincere. Traversing the nooks and crannies of kidhood, from ballfields to swimming holes, The Life and Times of the Last Kid Picked captures a moment in twentieth-century American life, as Benjamin magically recalls the myriad scrapes, intrepid adventures, and wanderlust that once made childhood such an exhilarating enterprise.
About David Benjamin
David Benjamin was born in Sparta, Wisconsin, in 1949 and lived in nearby Tomah until he was thirteen. He began his first novel, The Adventures of Stanley and Peggy, the Sniderman Twins, in the fourth grade. It remains unfinished. A… More about David Benjamin
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Published by Random House May 25, 2011| 304 Pages| ISBN 9781588361165
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“A boy’s way of life in the olden heartland of America, now largely gone, is expertly summoned again by a clever grown-up kid. In a narrative voice that sounds like Penrod equipped with a few cuss words, Benjamin deftly depicts the world of kids (i.e., boys). . . . We can see him, portrayed by Master Rockwell, fairly leaping off a Saturday Evening Post cover. His evocative memoir, part Patrick McManus and more Jean Shepherd, has enough fun and wit to play with either, last kid no more.” —Kirkus Reviews
“I relished every tadpole-scented word of David Benjamin’s comic conjuring of American kidhood. If you’re looking for a sassy update of Tom Sawyer with touches of Holden Caulfield and Russell Baker, The Last Kid Picked should be the first book bought.” —Ron Powers
“David Benjamin’s funny, quirky, entirely engaging memoir of growing up in 1950s Wisconsin is a small treasure. It’s full of the big heartbreak of tiny lives, the salty give-and-take of being a kid on the threshold, making the team but losing the faith of sweet innocence. Do yourself a favor: pull up an armchair and take a trip back there. You won’t regret the journey.” —James Dodson, author of Final Rounds and Faithful Travelers
“The Life and Times of the Last Kid Picked is a classic comic memoir. It has a wonderful combination of instantly recognizable truths and Tom Sawyer–like tall tales. Any former child, or present one, will enjoy this book.” —James Fallows