Review of "Ratticus: A True Tale from Critter Corner" by Raymond Birdsell
Summary:The true short story of one family, one critter, and one month's worth of problems.
A comedic look at the travails of being a homeowner and dealing with the occasional uninvited houseguest.
Review:In this story, homeowners do battle with a very determined rat who has moved into their home. Having an older home myself that seems to be prone to critter invasions, I fully appreciate everything the author and his family went through. Picturing Birdsell catching mice with a colander and chasing rats with a golf club reminded me of my own adventures: trapping mice in tupperware and driving to the park in my pajamas to release them, using a tennis racket to scoot a possum out from behind the dryer, etc.
As Birdsell points out, many people have similar stories of critter or bug invasions. If the individual is a good storyteller, as Birdsell clearly is, such tales are tailor made for amusing blog posts or a comedically dramatic retelling while out to dinner with friends. However, as a short story, “Ratticus” doesn’t quite make it.
For starters, the author tries to combine too many side stories into the plot. The piece starts off talking about water-themed disasters then suddenly segues into the world of critter trouble. Here, the story again loses its continuity as Birdsell becomes sidetracked with other, parallel stories of mouse and chipmunk invasions. This gives the story a choppy feel and distracts from the main plot line. This proves the case of too much information not always being a good thing.
Second, the author tends towards long-windedness. While the story contains a good deal of humorous imagery, the wordy, almost formal writing style is at odds with the friendly, witty voice Birdsell employs as narrator.
While a funny tale, as a literary piece “Ratticus” feels choppy and forced.