Friday, January 05, 2007

NO GUNS, NO KNIVES, NO PERSONAL CHECKS

No Guns, No Knives, No Personal Checks: The Tales of a San Francisco Cab DriverWho knew being a cab driver in a big city could be so interesting, dangerous and funny, often at the same time. First time author Larry Sager knew, because he’s "been there and done that."

Being more of a treatise on cab drivers than on the passengers themselves, NO GUNS, NO KNIVES, NO PERSONAL CHECKS is a human interest yarn set in the funky city-by-the-bay, San Francisco.

From transvestites, vomiting drunkards, prostitutes, the eccentric wealthy, to the common man, taxis carry everyone from all walks of life. And Mr. Sager has met them all.

The strengths of the book is in Mr. Sager’s prose. He often can make light of seemingly dangerous situations, or make the mundane curiously strange. Example: when Mr. Sager picks up what was supposed to be another cab company’s call, a driver from the opposing company appears as a madman at Larry’s driver’s side window, threatening all manner of destruction on him and his cab.

Then there’s the more mundane things that become quite funny, such as when he drops off an elderly lady at her home, assists her into the house, and notes, "The house was about 54 years old. And the furniture inside looked to be about 54 years old. And it looked as if the furniture hadn’t been moved in about 54 years."

Any weaknesses have to be directed at the occasional chapter that held minimal laughs, frights or eccentrics. These seemed to be loaded toward the center of the book, making it drag for several chapters. These were the "I picked ‘em up here, listened to him/her talk, then dropped them off" sections. Unfortunately, there were just a few too many of them to give the book a higher rating. The other issue was the ending of chapters. Many of them had the standard, "And I pushed down on the accelerator" cliche attached to them, which didn’t jive well with Mr. Sager’s more interesting prose.

I usually don’t comment on cover art or blurbs, but I’m going to make an exception here. The cover is very colorful and well rendered. Nearly something from every chapter is represented on it. And the blurb on the back that finally got me to read the book was this, ‘"Taxis? They smell. I much prefer to fly. Thank you very much." – Bela Lugosi, actor, Gilroy, California.’ Anyone who lives around Gilroy knows that they’re famous for garlic, and that Bel Lugosi was the ultimate vampire actor. Quite witty, I must say. Anyone who can make those types of comical connections is okay in my book.

I’m glad I read No Guns, No Knives. It’s slow middlings were mostly made up for by the strong beginning and ending.

Looking for a good nonfiction, human interest read? Check this one out and you might find yourself on one helluva ride.

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