Cracker Barrel TroubleshooterJanuary 5, 2016
So, here’s a fun book.
Cracker Barrel Troubleshooter, by Jim Kjelgaard, is about Bill Rawls, a college student whose guardian — his uncle — dies after having frittered away Bill’s fortune. All that’s left is a country store in a tiny former lumber town called Elk Shanty. Bill could probably work his way through the rest of his college course, but this is, as I said, a Fun Book, so he decides to check out Elk Shanty instead. He finds:
- a pretty girl.
- a funny dog.
- a population not capable of supporting a store.
- a burly local youth who inexplicably hates him.
- lots of food. Like, so much.
- good fishing.
He decides, for whatever reason — the girl and repeated blows to the head are factors, I think — to stay and attempt to make a go of the store, which is, after all, all he’s got. This, for me, is the really fun part. I mean, sure, the fishing is made to sound reasonably exciting, and so is the eventual big fist fight, but for me the bit where Bill has to convince a local wholesaler to extend his credit is better.
And, I mean, this is a book for teenage boys, so everything is simplified, but Kjelgaard lets Bill make mistakes and give you enough material to understand them. Making the store a success usually looks achievable, but never easy. Also the food sounds very appealing, although I’ve always found it difficult to imagine people consuming pie in the quantities they do in old books.
Anyway, I enjoyed this a lot. I can’t imagine any of Kjelgaard’s other books will feel quite as specifically geared towards me — I’d happily subsist on a diet of books about people doing good things with unexpected inheritances — but I think I’m going to have to check a few out anyway.