Tales of the Tinkertoy by JJ Semple

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BKV4GWKJ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Life Force Books (February 13, 2023)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ February 13, 2023
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
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I’ve been asked why I wrote Tales of the Tinkertoy, given my experience is in nonfiction. Did I write it to gain a larger audience? Not exactly: I wrote it to secure a different audience—not an easy task. A real challenge, in fact, like asking Shia and Sunnis to find common ground. Not to worry; the book speaks for itself, a detail readers are discovering— that a nonfiction author can write fiction.

“JJ Semple writes very well (in places evoking Phillip Roth) and his characters in Tales Of The Tinkertoy coalesce into unique and interested voices.” ~ IndieReader

Tales Of The Tinkertoy (TOTT) tells it like it was. It’s a Bildungsroman set in its own time—the 1960s—the sexual revolution. If nothing else, it serves as a historical reference, allowing readers to compare the present to the not-so-long-ago past and to appreciate the ways we’ve progressed and the ways we haven’t.

When 15-year-old Gus leaves his Oklahoma birthplace to live with his aunt and uncle in New York City, he narrowly escapes the blame for getting a girl “in trouble.” In the Big Apple, a whole new life opens for him—from boarding school to university to Marine Corps duty in Paris to a career at the WBN television network.

It’s in this context that we meet Gus as a young man making the same mistakes you and I made when we were twenty-something—at a time when the uptight standards of the 1950s (the last remnants of the Victorian age) were being swept aside. Gus deludes himself into believing sex with liberated women will ease his frustrations about the compromises he’s forced to make at work.

Ambitious, Gus has the brains to rise to the top of network television. Yet, as the only non-white producer at WBN, he’s ambivalent about an industry that values money over narrative, politics over truth. He chafes at being obliged to run civil rights and Vietnam stories that hide the truth from the American people. But the money is good and there aren’t that many opportunities “for someone like him.”

He tries everything short of a sex change in a frantic search for love. One woman is determined to set him straight. She gets her chance after Gus is waylaid in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention helping him piece his life back together.

While writing Tales Of The Tinkertoy, I paid short shrift to political correctness and Presentism, defined by Webster as An attitude toward the past dominated by present-day attitudes and experiences or, as pundit Bill Maher puts it, Judging everyone in the past by the standards of the present. I found it futile to filter my experience through a set of informal guidelines that smother creativity and distort reality. Better to rely on the good judgment of readers to understand things were different back then.

Tales of the Tinkertoy is a case study in expanding consciousness, the story of a young man as he moves from the profane to the sacred, from numbing ambivalence to a greater awareness. The answers are not always in plain sight; he learns to read between the lines. He backslides. His awakening hangs by a thread: will he find the Way? Will he take the path untrodden or will he remain tied to a life of baseless materialism?

If you’re looking for original fiction, TOTT is right up the proverbial alley. A guidebook to the happening of the sixties, it’s also a psychological study of human motives, why people do the things they do—for love, money, and fame—sometimes with very little self-awareness in the doing
TOTT is about the journey as well as the destination, a realistic illustration of what a person endures to achieve a modicum of self-awareness. Something we in the West find difficult because we’re used to instant gratification. To us, life is an irritating parade of ups and downs, against which we defend ourselves from behind a barrier of materialism.

Which makes journey doubly difficult because the individual has never been more alone. Read Tales of the Tinkertoy; compare Gus’s story to your own!


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