My Books!

Thursday, May 9, 2024

The Big Comb Over



J.P. Rieger



GENRE:  Family satire; Farce; Magical realism






Three nephews and three eccentric uncles.


It’s 2050 and Robbie Elders has all but forgotten about his oddball, religious fanatic uncle, tim tim. He’s taken up the latest fad, genealogical research based solely on DNA. But Robbie’s “inconclusive” DNA results are unsettling. He crashes back to his childhood, back to his world of comic books and tim tim.


“I opt for posh and London” declares Lady Florence Stour. It’s 2019 and time for a Royal Wedding. Robbie’s uncle, Stef, is engaged to Lady Florence, a distant member of the British royal family. Stef’s Baltimore clan have been invited, but Robbie’s mom and dad can’t attend. They’ve entrusted Robbie and big brother, Doyle, to their mom’s two eccentric brothers, uncles Roy and Roland. Roy, a weathered waterman with a severe Baltimore accent, lives for Maryland blue crabs. Roland, a mildly hypochondriacal actor, lives to survive the Karens he unavoidably encounters. And then there’s Desales, Roy’s smart aleck, teenage son. He lives to prank. They’ve descended upon London. What could possibly go wrong?


Meanwhile, tim tim has been coaching Robbie on “the mission.” A silly religious fantasy according to Robbie’s atheist parents and the therapists. Or perhaps not? Things are not always as they appear in The Big Comb Over.






Roland looked at the bottle in awe. “Fletcher’s Dry Shampoo – Hint of Almond.” He looked over the directions and ingredients on the back. “Wow! It’s gluten-free and approved by PETA, too!” He handed back the bottle, gingerly, as though it were an egg.


“Yes! So, I’ll get things started, today, but when you use it, remember to follow the instructions carefully. You have to shake the thing like a bastard.”


He pulled off the top cap and shook the bottle frantically. 


“Okay, shield your eyes with your hands, Roland.”


Morris began carefully spraying the bald spot. The bottle produced several quick spurts—the initial “targeting” move. He then pulled the can back several inches and sprayed in a wider arc, slowly filling in the surrounding areas. Excess brown powder fell gently onto the cape; iron filings mixed with cinnamon. 


“Yes, there we go! Success! Let me give it a brush-through and a good zhuzh!”


Morris began to carefully run the boar’s hairbrush through the mixture of hair and powdered shampoo. There was that one tricky area, so he gave it another quick blast with the aerosol can. He completed brushing and found the most optimal place for the all-important part. Something natural. Avoiding the comb-over effect was difficult. Balance . . . balance . . .


He then gave Roland’s hair a quick blast with the hair dryer. Not too much, as there was not much to dry. The shampoo had absorbed most of the hemp oil treatment. He put the dryer aside and gave Roland’s hair a two-handed, final zhuzh. He spun the chair around, dramatically, and placed a hand mirror in front of Roland’s face so that he could check out the back.


“Looky loo, Sir Roland! Nary a hint of . . . deficiency!”


Roland looked with disbelief. He no longer had that bald spot! It was gone!


“Oh dear Lord, Morris! You are a genius! Look at this! Michelangelo!” He handed back the mirror, stunned.


“Thank you, thank you!” Morris took a quick bow and rapidly turned the chair back around, causing Roland some dizziness. “Now, let me hit you with a finishing spray to hold everything in place!”


He dramatically removed the top of the hairspray aerosol and shook the can furiously. He sprayed the mist in a near random fashion near the scalp and then away from the scalp and then back toward and quickly away again—a symphony conductor of a twelve-tone sound poem.


He spun Roland around again and thrust the mirror before his face. “What do you think?!”


“Yes, yes, Morris, this is perfect! This is what I’ve been waiting for... dreaming about!"

A Word With the Author

Do you ever wish you were someone else? Who? I definitely do not want to be another person. It’s tricky enough being me. But, if I were somehow forced to be another person, I would choose Mother Theresa or perhaps Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Or maybe drumming legend Hal Blaine. (Lincoln and Washington were spoken for.)

What motor vehicle did you drive on your last birthday? My new used Prius! To me, driving my Prius on any given day is like having a birthday party. There’s a sense of serenity. Very Zen. Sadly, I had to trade in my 2002 Prius last year as it finally refused to run after nearly 21 years of nonstop partying. The $500 in trade seemed reasonable. But I rebounded with a very nice, low mileage 2015 Prius. Tongues have been wagging over the “May-December” thing, but let them.

What part of the writing process do you dread? There’s nothing worse than creating a plot synopsis. But, not just one, of course, many of them. First, giving away the plot just seems wrong. The reader needs to work the puzzle out no matter who they are. But, when submitting to multiple outlets, you quickly learn that the thousand-word synopsis that you spent days whittling down to, is either too long or too short. Publication X wants a five-hundred-word synopsis. Publication Y wants a “one pager.”  (However, publication Y provided no guidelines with respect to type size. So, why not 5-point type?)

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I haven’t had any sort of writer’s block yet. But at my age, 68, other blockages are more prevalent and troublesome.

Tell us about your latest release. My novel, The Big Comb Over, tells the tale of three nephews and their three eccentric uncles. The Big Comb Over is an oddball mashup of several genres: magical realism, family life satire, and the ancient comedy of manners. The two main plotlines center around nephew Robbie’s relationship with his uncles. First is his uncle, tim tim, who loves superhero comics. Tim tim believes he is on a God-driven mission to help others, with the aid of occasionally accessible superpowers. He tries to bring Robbie into the fold. The parallel plotline centers on the travels of the three nephews, Robbie, Doyle and Desales, with their whacky uncles Roy and Roland, to London England to attend a royal wedding. The trek becomes a whirlwind of comically absurd episodes. 




AUTHOR Bio and Links:


J. Paul (J.P.) Rieger is a born and bred Baltimorean and mostly retired Maryland attorney. As such, he’s well acquainted with the quirkiness and charm of Baltimore’s unique citizens. He’s author of Clonk!, a police farce set in Baltimore and published in 2023 by Apprentice House Press (Loyola University-Baltimore). He’s also author of The Case Files of Roderick Misely, Consultant, a mystery novel featuring a wannabe lawyer anti-hero. The Big Comb Over, a slipstream comedy of manners featuring three nephews and their three eccentric uncles, is Paul’s third novel. Paul is married and lives in Towson, Maryland. 







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  1. Good Morning and Happy Thursday, Hope. Dream. Life... Love, Thanks for having me onboard today!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful book.

  3. Thank you! If anyone would like to review, it's currently on Book Sirens...

  4. This looks like a enthralling read. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What inspired you to start writing?

    1. Well, my parents encouraged us kids to read from an early age and I became a voracious reader. Both of my parents were amateur writers, too, and seeing their enjoyment inspired me to also try my hand at writing. Maintaining a law career kept me quite busy, but I eventually began writing during vacations and business travel. It took about 10 years, but I had finally completed my first novel.

    2. I appreciate such an insightful response and I too starting reading an early age! I wish you much success and happiness in 2024!

  6. Thanks for sharing. This sounds really interesting.

  7. Thanks everyone, for a great day!

  8. I like the excerpt. Sounds really good.

  9. The title really makes me interested in the book.

    1. Thanks, Michele! I hope you get the chance to read it!

  10. This looks like an awesome. Thanks for sharing.