Mr. Ballpoint Review – A Novel Based on a Strange, True Story

It may be that because I remember the time described in Gerald Everett Jones’s novel Mr. Ballpoint when ballpoint pens were a status symbol, that I found the story charming and fun, if wacky.  Since much of the story took place in Chicago, where I live, I was also drawn to the experiences described.  The incidents described are hard to believe, though a kernel of reality seems to hang in the background.  But the real story, the post-script, is the most fascinating of all.  Be sure you read this part. The book is a fun read.


Author Gerald Everett Jones (Gabriella Muttone Photography)

Mr. Jones brings to this novel, which is based on a true story, a wide range of life experience.He is perhaps best known for his humorous Rollo Hemphill Misadventures novels.  In addition, he is now doing weekly book reviews on the radio. His two-minute Boychik Lit "snapshot reviews" air every Saturday night on The Mark Isler Show, KRLA 870 AM in Los Angeles. Mark's show runs from 9 – 11 p.m. Pacific Time, and Gerald's book reviews typically air around 9:30. Then, the following day, the reviews are posted in the Boychik Lit podcast feed on SoundCloud, FeedBurner, and iTunes. Text and MP3 clips of all the reviews are available on Gerald's blog.


L to R): Navigator Tex Sallee, Capt. Bill Odom, Pres. Truman, and Milton Reynolds. Congratulations on their record-breaking flight. (Abbie Rowe [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Gerald's novels include Mr. Ballpoint (fictionalized history of the wacky Pen Wars of 1945), Christmas Karma (an homage to Anne Tyler, narrated by an angel with a weird sense of humor), and The Misadventures of Rollo Hemphill (three comic novels about an impudent young man on the make who fails continuously upward). The author's nonfiction business title How to Lie with Charts is a "how-not-to" primer on graphic design and business math. That popular book, selling well for two decades, has been adopted for courses at colleges such as Empire State and Georgetown.


Ad for the Reynolds Rocket ballpoint pen (Reynolds Pen Co.)

The story touches on that well known personality - the salesman.  Think “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller for one.  Interestingly, Mr. Ballpoint was a play before it was a novel.  The relationship between Milton Reynolds and his Stanford educated, engineer son, Jim is poignant. The situations are ridiculous and seem like pure fantasy until, at the very end, one leans that these stories are not too far from the truth.  It is a fun and fascinating read with many historical moments cited for good measure.


Zelta and James Reynolds, real-world power couple (Reynolds Family)

During its House Party segment from 10 – 11 p.m., The Mark Isler Show is a current-events roundtable during which Mark hosts invited guests, who often represent widely different positions on the political spectrum. In addition to his book reviews, Gerald is a recurring House Party commentator. Mark and perhaps the majority of his listeners tend to be conservative on most issues, as is the station and its network, Salem Communications. However, Gerald thinks of himself as a progressive Democrat. "It's a testament to Mark's fair-mindedness that he lets me on the show at all," the author quips. "But even if at times they're all laughing at me, that's fine, too. I can only hope my humorous novels are half as entertaining as my gaffes on live air."


Humorous novel Mr. Ballpoint about the Pen Wars of 1945 (LaPuerta Books)

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