“Big” stories, the ones that relate life-changing events, are made up of countless little moments. In I Win De Lotto!, a young man’s journey is full of peaks and valleys, but it’s the workaday details that make this story enjoyable.
When Louie illegally crosses the border into the U.S., he’s not just chasing the American dream, he’s running from trouble: His pregnant girlfriend’s family is out for blood, and Mexico isn’t safe for him anymore. Working as a day laborer, changing his name to suit whatever forged papers he can score, and being constantly on the move to keep a low profile are the substance of Louie’s days.
When author Tim Sullivan describes the small, shared apartments the braceros live in and their reliance on endless pots of coffee and cheap food from corner stores to keep on going, the story takes flight. These small details feel like the stuff of real life. Another great strength of the story is Louie himself; he is an easy character to care about, and readers will be compelled to turn pages in order to find out what happens to him.
Unfortunately, the text is marred by several stylistic issues. The story is peppered with distracting typos, and while Louie narrates nearly the entire novel, Chapter One begins with an omniscient narrator and then, without warning, slides into Louie’s first-person voice. This is jarring and gives readers the feeling that they are not in capable hands. The title is also an odd choice. Louie does, in fact, win the lottery and shouts it out, but nowhere else in the text does his dialogue feature an accent.
At 138 pages, this is a slim offering. Were Sullivan to expand the story somewhat, it would be more satisfying. As written, I Win De Lotto! is in need of thoughtful polishing, but it’s teeming with potential. With revision, however, this could be a genuinely captivating read.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.