Ballantine, Poe 1955–
Ballantine, Poe 1955–
Born 1955, in Denver, CO. Education: Attended Humboldt State University.
Writer. Has worked at various odd jobs, including bartender, carpet cleaner, and truck driver.
Things I Like about America: Personal Narratives, Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts (Portland, OR), 2002.
God Clobbers Us All (novel), Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts (Portland, OR), 2004.
Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire (novel), Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts (Portland, OR), 2006.
501 Minutes to Christ (essays), Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts (Portland, OR), 2007.
Contributor to anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories: 1998, edited by Garrison Keillor and Katrina Kenison, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1998, and The Best American Essays: 2006, edited by Lauren Slater and Robert Atwan, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006. Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Sun, Kenyon Review, and Coal City Review.
"Cook, warehouse, bartender, pizza delivery, factories, pest control, carpet cleaning, truck driver, groundskeeper, janitor…. Moved every year, sometimes more often," is how Poe Ballantine sums up his life and education on his Web site. His nomadic existence has taken him all over the country, and in Things I Like about America: Personal Narratives, he chronicles the experiences he has had along the way. Drunks and druggies, countless miles in a Greyhound bus, and grueling hours at low-level jobs all fuel the stories and essays that make up this look at the underbelly of American culture. Distinctly quirky characters, like the kleptomaniacal nymphomaniac in the story "She's Got Barney Rubble Eyes," remind readers of the unusual possibilities inherent in even the most mundane settings. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that "though the author obviously has the material for an excellent portrait of America, the anticipated insights and wealth of description born of such travel and adventure simply aren't quite here." Other critics offered a more positive assessment of the work: "The payoff—and there is one—lies in his self-deprecating humor and acerbic social commentary," wrote Jordan Adair in the Independent Weekly. "Part social commentary, part collective biography, this guided tour may not be comfortable, but one thing's for sure: You will be at home," concluded Willamette Week contributor Carol Castro.
God Clobbers Us All, Ballantine's debut novel, centers on eighteen-year-old Edgar Donohoe, a goofy but affable surfer who works at a San Diego nursing home, takes copious amounts of drugs, and sleeps with a married coworker. When a reclusive nurse's aide who befriends Edgar suddenly disappears, he moves into her home and realizes how much they had in common. "A surfer dude transforms into someone captivatingly fragile, and Ballantine's novel becomes something tender, vulnerable, even sweet," observed Seth Taylor in the San Diego Union-Tribune, and a contributor to the Absinthe Literary Review praised Ballantine's "talent for deft and veritable dialogue."
In Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire, a follow-up to God Clobbers Us All, Edgar leaves San Diego after being kicked out of college and winds up on Poisson Rouge, a bug-infested Caribbean island full of bizarre characters. "As the story progresses, Edgar's tourist-brochure fantasy of Poisson Rouge as an exotic utopia full of ‘smiling, carefree natives’ quickly (and comically) implodes," noted Philadelphia Weekly critic Willa Rohrer. The author "stretches young male aimlessness and foolishness to the breaking point," wrote a contributor in Publishers Weekly.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July 1, 2006, Allison Block, review of Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire, p. 27.
Library Journal, June 1, 2006, Kevin Greczek, review of Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire, p. 104.
Philadelphia Weekly, July 26, 2006, Willa Rohrer, "Welk on the Wild Side," review of Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire.
Publishers Weekly, June 3, 2002, review of Things I Like about America: Personal Narratives, p. 81; May 29, 2006, review of Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire, p. 35.
San Diego Union-Tribune, June 13, 2004, Seth Taylor, "California Story," review of God Clobbers Us All; September 3, 2006, Tiffany Lee-Youngren, "Strictly Fictional," review of Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire.
Absinthe Literary Review,http://absinthe-literary-review.com/ (April 22, 2008), review of God Clobbers Us All.
Independent Weekly Online,http://www.indyweek.com/ (December 4, 2002), Jordan Adair, review of Things I Like about America.
Willamette Week Online,http://www.wweek.com/ (February 3, 2003), Carol Castro, review of Things I Like about America.