A Caddy, A Class and a lot of Chaos: Chuckerman Makes a Movie

Originally published May 2018

“I have a friend.”

I am not a big time book reviewer, so it never fails to amaze me when people ask if I can read a friend’s book. I don’t know that I’ve ever said no. I have oodles of respect for anyone that actually accomplishes what’s been on my bucket list for decades. But I do get anxious.

What if I don’t like it?

In the case of “Chuckerman Makes a Movie,” the only thing I dislike is that people have to wait until October to read it.

Chicago area author Francie Arenson Dickman has crafted a quietly beautiful love story about the relationships that matter most, spanning decades and stretching from 1970s Florida to the early 2000s New York. At the center is David “Chuckerman” Melman, a mid-30s fragrance king whose sisters think has an unnatural relationship with his grandfather’s classic Caddy. It’s in this behemoth of a car that the story begins and ends. But it’s the in-between that will draw you in.

Maybe you have one in your family — the man child that can’t seem to make the leap to straight up adult, no matter how hard you try to push them along. Such is the case with David, whose niece and nephew even recognize could use a little help in the relationship department. when they let it slip that their mom — his sister Marcy — thinks a screenwriting class is a good idea, he tentatively agrees and readers are treated to the story of Slip and Estelle, David’s grandparents and characters in a real-life soap opera that is senior living in 1970s Miami. (Y’all thought “Real Housewives” was original. But it’s not.)

Enter Laurel, his teacher — a maybe former Mormon thinking of converting to Judaism, and definitely not someone that would have otherwise turned Chuckerman’s head. But maybe he sees in her something of himself —another soul in need of exorcising the past to jump into a future.

The book’s colorful character development, under the guise of a screenplay, makes for an entertaining and even touching read. Touching because you’ll recognize some part of yourself between the pages, whether it’s the 10-year-old hanging out at your grandpa’s card game or the 30-something trying to make sense of love when you finally see it for the first time.

If I could recommend it as a beach read, I would — instead, it’ll have to go on the Fall 2018 Getting Hygge With It list. A great page turner for a long weekend!

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