Caledonia Switch won the Reviewers Choice Award for Best Humorous Novel in 2014
OBEYING THE LAW IS HARD WHEN THE LAW’S SO EASY TO BREAK
A precocious teenager named John Wesley Hardin illegally day trades options to save his father’s hardware store in idyllic Caledonia, New Hampshire. Clinging to vestiges of infantile omnipotence, John sets up a sham trust to hide his fraudulent schemes. Early successes entice him to make increasingly risky bets that threaten to ruin three families – the Hardins, the Lavals, and the Harringtons. When his fundamental identity is exposed as a fiction, his confidence is shattered. He must choose humility over pride to rebound from disaster to be capable of loving and worthy of being loved.
Witnesses made side bets and positioned themselves to verify the pending feat of strength. Simon recalled that the curb weight of the Fiat was 1,300 pounds, so he needed to leg press about 650 pounds. Plus or minus whatever, he thought. This was the easiest money he had ever made with the exception of the recent lottery windfall itself. Simon made a great show of inhaling and exhaling as he had seen weight-lifters do on television. He squatted deeply once to stretch his leg and back muscles. He raised himself from the squat long enough to take slack out of the loading strap. He winked confidently at his brother Thomas, who refrained from winking in return, because, when a man wearing an eye patch winks, he is out of the vision business, and Thomas didn’t want to miss knowing the outcome of his twenty-dollar side bet. Simon put all his effort into the leg press. He was able to extend the Fiat’s shock absorbers to the full length of their travel, but his first thrust didn’t get the rear wheels clear of the ground. Veins the size of licorice sticks protruded from his neck and forehead. Early in the thrust of his second attempt, something internal popped like the sound of a cork separating from a champagne bottle. Simon deflated like a ruptured balloon, the Fiat struts compressed, and the weight of the car fell back onto the suspension springs. Simon whimpered as he fell limp onto the rear of the car. In silhouette, Simon appeared to be fornicating with the Fiat.
“I think I broke my back,” he said. “I could be sterilized from the waist down.”