Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

Disorderly Notions is a very good title for this work. It bounces back and forth between three different stories, all of them different points in the history of the Benjamin family. The oldest story belongs to Judah P. Benjamin. Judah was the the Secretary of State of the Confederate states. The most recent story is from a descendant of Judah’s brother. Judah ran off to Britain after the war, his brother wandered around central America for a while before coming back and settling in southern Georgia and founding a town.

Hamilton is a college professor and is the primary person all the action centers around. His mother moved to Canada with his father and that is where he was born and grew up. He and his mom made frequent trips to visit the family in Georgia and that is how he became great friends with his cousin Jud. Hamilton and his ‘uncle’ Andy decide to travel around Asia for a few months while ‘Hambone’ lets the dust settle down when a bad decision comes back to haunt him.

This review is kind of meandering just like the book itself. I really don’t know if it can be nice and easily compressed into a paragraph or two for a synopsis. Disorderly Notions covers a lot of ground and each story is interesting in it’s own right, though racism is a topic that flows through the whole book with a bit of light politics.

Everything is all tied together pretty tightly by the end of the book. I would say almost too tightly. It was interesting in that parts of the book felt like it was ready to be over, while the actual ending felt rushed. There were a couple surprises at the end and if you are not paying attention you might miss the significance.

In general I would say this is not the kind of book I would normally pick up to read. I think it falls too close to the ‘literary fiction’ which I usually avoid. I will say that I actually enjoyed this book. I found it to be well written. I think the meandering telling was a fun way to bring the story to life. I don’t think everyone will like the way the story is told but that’s true of any book.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amature woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Iguana Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.