The subtitle of John E. Budzinski’s essay collection does a wonderful job of capturing its tone, as does a secondary subtitle: “stories and essays of dubious consequence.”
Budzinski, who worked as a freelance writer as a side gig, penned a column for a New Hampshire weekly newspaper for five years. This collection reprises some of those columns, while also incorporating newer pieces. The essays are grouped by topics such as “Life on the Highway,” “Politics,” “Bewildering Society,” and “Clothing—The Naked Truth.”
The author calls his essays “simple and uncomplicated yammerings.” Indeed, the author’s style is conversational and sometimes borderlines stream of consciousness with humor embedded in all but the most serious of subjects. It’s not hard to imagine Budzinski’s loyal readers opening their newspaper with a cup of coffee at hand to peruse his latest column and share it with others around the kitchen table.
Some pieces evoke nostalgia, while many are good-natured rants. Most provide slice-of-life commentary: why he enjoys meandering through Civil War battlefields and cemeteries (“Cemeteries calm me. I’m never angry or upset while there…”); what he’d do if aliens chose him to take them to our leader (and why he’s probably not the best choice!); finding a long-forgotten, dust-covered box when cleaning a closet; how he’d perform as an advice columnist; and so forth.
Budzinski’s essays harken to an era when people may have been more willing to relax and let stories unfold as they will with occasional, slightly rambling asides. His pieces deliver mildly entertaining insights rather than startlingly fresh thoughts. Older readers will likely appreciate the essays more than younger readers, who might grow impatient with the pace.
Readers can approach this collection as they like: choosing to peruse an essay a day or only those that seem most intriguing, or reading all of them in order. While none are intended to solve the world’s problems, they make for a pleasant, relaxing read.