Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review of Chumpy Walnut by Will Viharo

Chumpy Walnut

Chumpy Walnut
written by Will Viharo 

202 Pages (paperback)
$15.00 Paperback, $3.99 Kindle
ISBN-10: 0557600375
ISBN-13: 978-0557600373

Master Neo-Noir writer Will Viharo is known for his extreme, iconic, sci-fi-blood-bath-sex-party-mystery-insanity books with a retro cocktail kick, but he has a dirty little secret: When he was young, he wrote a very different kind of story, one that’s both heartwarming and highly original. This is the story of Chumpy Walnut, a little guy trying to make it in a big, cruel world.

The first thing I noticed about this story was that from the first paragraph Viharo creates a very distinct mood, something you can’t quite put your finger on but you know is there. The best way I can describe it is as a mix between Guys and Dolls and Little Red Riding Hood, giving the reader a sense of another, ambiguous time, and of a place that is strange yet oddly familiar all at once.

The story seems mostly lighthearted, but once you get to know the characters and see the trials they endure, it quickly turns into a journey for Chumpy and the people he meets along the way. There are some heavy moments, offset by some very funny, vaudeville-ish humor. And unlike most of Viharo’s other books (which will probably get an X rating when they hit the big screen) this book is appropriate for teens and adults (I don’t think there was a single four-letter word, and no explicit sex or gore scenes in this one.)

The writing flows very nicely, coercing you to keep reading, egging you on to find out what will happen next to the poor little guy who just doesn’t seem to ever get a break in life. Yet with all his hardships, he realizes just how lucky he is to have the family and friends that he comes to rely on. I feel this story parallels that of many people, in one way or another, which makes it easy to identify with Chumpy no matter how different he seems to be.

Viharo wrote this story many years ago, then dusted it off and re-edited it more recently, no doubt incorporating some of the writing techniques he learned over the years; however the story still rings of a young, ambitious writer, full of excitement and expression. It’s a real treat to read such an early work from an established writer.

Chumpy Walnut will appeal to many people on many levels, but I believe people who enjoy the works of authors like Damon Runyon and Raymond Chandler will find this book to their liking most of all. The style is characteristic of a by-gone era, and the reader must keep in mind that “voice” to fully enjoy this book.

-Christopher Pinto, author of

Murder Behind The Closet Door
Murder on Tiki Island
Tiki Lounge Talk

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