Tepper Isn’t Going Out – a novel. Perhaps novella would be a better word? Or satire? This is a very short book by humorist Calvin Trillin, who was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humour in 2013 at the age of 78.
I’ve read Thurber – he invented Walter Mitty, and this novel is similar. It’s lightweight, lighthearted and quite fun. At times it made me laugh out loud. It’s a great holiday book – short chapters for those brief holiday reading moments, and that short holiday concentration.
On the other hand it’s also limited – the characters aren’t really developed, at times they’re ciphers, they’re mostly caricatures – but that’s what to expect from this kind of book.
Murray Tepper likes to park, in fact he likes to sit in his parked car and read the newspaper, much to the annoyance of the fellow New Yorkers who can’t find a parking spot. He listens to passers-by, chats, gives out advice, becomes a minor celebrity. We meet his family, briefly and amusingly.
The mayor is a stickler for rules, and somewhat irrational. He isn’t happy with Tepper’s parking habits. There are some quite amusing sections in the mayor’s office; it’s a brief exploration of some of the absurdities of the American political system.
Eventually there are crowds seeking Murray’s advice – there might be disturbances. The mayor decides to act. Lawyers descend attempting to clear Murray off the streets. It becomes a question of freedom of speech, of freedom of association. There are court cases.
I found this book after scouring my bookshelf for more unread books – still on my economy drive. Surprisingly I’d never noticed this before tucked between two larger tomes. I’m fairly glad I found it. It made me smile.