The Retail

The Retail
Published: November 11, 2014
Author's Twitter: @joshdankerdake
Aspiring writer Penn Reynard has just joined the ranks of America’s fifteen million retail workers: fresh out of college with an English degree, he can’t find a job anywhere except at the local big-box hardware store. Working returns, Penn experiences firsthand the often comical absurdity, chaos, and shenanigans of the retail world. At least he has a new romance with a coworker going for him—if he doesn’t screw it up. The constant pressures of dealing with hostile customers, oblivious coworkers, and overbearing management begin to take their toll on him, though, and as his desired career path threatens to fall out of reach, Penn struggles to break free of retail’s clutches.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

November 11, 2014

4 Stars

The Retail by Joshua Danker-Dake is an easy, fun read. Anyone who’s ever been inside one of those Big Box home improvement stores will instantly recognize the setting, though I doubt my local Home Depot or Lowe’s is hiding sales associates as clever and funny as these.  The conversations are the sort we wish we had with our work colleagues, but our colleagues are mere mortals, while the boys and girls of the House Station are bright and witty. The interactions with the customers-from-hell ring true, if sometimes exaggerated for effect.

Main character, Penn, is a recent collage graduate and wannabe writer (Why are these protagonists always wannabe writers, never wannabe lawyers, or wannabe plumbers?) working at the House Station after being denied entrance to grad school. Told in dairy-like episodes, the book chronicles Penn’s 431 days toiling in retail, his interactions with his colleagues, his roommate and his girlfriend, and his budding romance with Chloe, who works in Paint. It’s easy to visualize this story as a film—a young twenties, buddy-film, coming-of-age, romcom.

The book is well edited and fast-paced. There’s nothing deep, profound, or unexpected here, but there doesn’t need to be. Readers looking for a light, enjoyable story won’t be disappointed. A strong four stars.



The Sparrow Conundrum

The Sparrow Conundrum
Categories: ,
Published: August 12, 2012
Author's Twitter: @carver22
An ex girl-friend, an exploding garden, two wrestlers, multiple homicides, a sociopathic cop, and fragments of a postman. All waiting for Chris Machin – codename Sparrow. Satirical absurdity at its funniest. Chris Machin may think he’s just a teacher, but the bottom feeders in Aberdeen squabbling over North Sea oil and gas contracts prefer to use his code-name – Sparrow. When his garden explodes he takes flight, unleashing various forms of Scottish mayhem.  More complications are added by his ex girlfriend and a sociopathic policeman whose hobbies are violence, making arrests and, best of all, combining the two. Several murders later, two wrestlers, a road trip to Inverness, a fishing trawler, a Russian factory ship, and some fragments of a postman complete the enigma of… The Sparrow Conundrum. Winner of the Readers’ Choice Award for Humor and Satire at Big Al’s Books and Pals 2012. Also winner of the Humor category in the 2011 Forward National Literature Awards. “… an over the top, thoroughly hilarious send-up, brilliantly realised and tremendously enjoyable. I laughed constantly, was horrified, was admiring and totally entertained all at once. It reminded me, in the best possible way, of the work of Tom Sharpe … writing that will have you spluttering on trains as you try not to laugh out loud”. Catherine Czerkawska, author of The Curiosity Cabinet, The Physic Garden and many others.