published Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Roberts: Check out Max Yoho's funny book

By Dalton Roberts

Today I want to introduce you to a book but, more importantly, acquaint you with an unusual mind. As you know, I am a people collector. I love to fill my life with people who have interesting personalities and perspectives.

Novelist Max Yoho is such a man. To demonstrate how special he is to me, he is the only novelist in my people collection. I probably haven't averaged reading two novels a year during my life, but I met Max online through Topeka columnist Naomi Patterson long ago and bought his award-winning novel "The Revival." It is the musings of a young boy attending a revival. It was so funny and thought-provoking that I became a Max Yoho fan.

Then we corresponded, and he told me he loved my song "Missionary Stew," so it is easy to fall into a mutual admiration society at such a time. A great songwriter once told me, "A song is just a three-minute short story or novel."

Max's latest novel is "With the Wisdom of Owls." It will be difficult for anything he ever writes to be funnier to me than "The Revival," but I must say that "With the Wisdom of Owls" appeals more to my "far-out funny bone," and my sister says my far-out funny bone is one of my funniest. When she lived in Florida, I devoted a portion of every Saturday to writing her something too crazy to even show to my more rational friends. She and I are joined at the funny bone.

One way I checked out the humor of "With the Wisdom of Owls" was to let her read my review copy one day when she visited me. She cackled so loud I decided either the book was funny or she had decided to start laying eggs.

Here's the story: What if there was a boy, Harry, who could remember his own conception and birth? Harry had a godfather, Wyatt, who was an owl. This precocious baby could converse in "High Owl" language. Wyatt had two brothers also eager to contribute to Harry's education.

The first sentence in the book is, "Don't let reality limit your life." And this book stands as a testimony that Max Yoho practices what he preaches. The fun I had reading it proves I have elbowed reality into its proper place in my life. If reality is disrupting your happiness, this book is your chance to take your stand for a wild and free funny bone.

The book covers the first year of his life where he goes from begrudging the loss of his umbilical cord and his circumcision to his efforts to understand all the adults who come and go around his crib. It is truly a year of hilarity to everyone but little Harry.

I once said, "So many people hovered over my crib tickling me under the chin and saying 'kitchy kitchy koo' that I wondered if I had been born in China."

If you have ever had similar thoughts, you will love Max Yoho's "With the Wisdom of Owls." To make contact, go to www.dancinggoatpress.com or write to Max or Dancing Goat at 3013 Quail Creek Drive, Topeka, KS 66614.

E-mail Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.

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