The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

February 12, 2014

How bad did the recession hurt?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 — The good news for all of us in North Carolina is that the unemployment rate is declining and the increase in economic activity is opening up new jobs to replace some of those we lost during the recession.

The bad news is that some North Carolinians are never going to recover from the disruption the financial crisis caused their career paths.

How do we measure that impact? How do we understand the turmoil and strain in each individual’s situation? What are these folks doing now? How did the sudden change in their lifestyles affect the rest of their lives? Have some things been lost forever?

I have heard writers say that they can sometimes tell the truth about a situation better in fiction than with facts and figures.

Elon University writing teacher Drew Perry’s new novel, “Kids These Days,” tackles this task. At the same time it tells a story that is both funny and poignant.

The book’s central character, Walter, had a stable, remunerative job in the mortgage brokerage business in Charlotte when his wife Alice pushed him into having a child that he was not sure he really wanted yet. Once she became pregnant, the recession hit and Walter was downsized out of his job.

His only option opens up through his wife’s sister’s husband, Mid Middleton, who owns a variety of small businesses on the east coast of Florida near St. Augustine.

Mid’s formula is to buy in to businesses that have potential to grow, help the managers, but let them run the show, only checking on them from time to time to let them know he is interested and watching.

Walter and Alice leave Charlotte and move to a condo near Mid’s home. Alice’s great aunt owned the condo until her recent death. So the couple can live there for free while they wait for the baby to come.

Walter learns that Mid’s businesses include part ownership in a high-end real estate development, in which his luxury home is the only completed house. There is also a lower end real estate project aimed at visiting fishermen. He also owns Island Pizza, sea kayak rentals, umbrella shops, and is opening Twice-the-Ice, a stand-alone automatic ice dispenser that, for the same price you would pay at a convenience store, gives you two times as much ice.

The first big hint that Mid’s business empire might be built on swampy land is a police raid on Island Pizza, and Mid’s arrest is a result of a marijuana distribution operation being run there. Mid says he knows nothing about it.

Doubtful. Then the hints become headlines as two sets of law enforcement teams begin to follow Mid. One set persuades him to co-operate in bringing his colleagues to justice.

Before Mid’s business world collapses, Walter and Alice experience the falling apart of Mid’s family. His 15-year-old daughter, Olivia, has re-named herself Delton, taken up with an older man, gotten a tattoo, and finally moved in with Walter and Alice because she no longer fits in her own family.

Mid is remorseful, at least a little bit, as he tells Walter, “I had something else pictured. Something calmer. Fewer police, fewer wayward children, you know?”

Meanwhile, having wat-ched Delton in action, Walter has to wonder whether he and Alice can possibly manage the growing-up challenges of the daughter in Alice’s womb.

“Kids These Days” is an entertaining read. Perfect, if only it had not made this reader worry about how close to the truth it is in shining a light on the desperate lives of young people torn apart by our recent economic unpleasantness.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at 12 p.m. and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV.

Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • D.G. Martin Read others’ views to be better informed, decide for yourself

    “I don’t read The Washington Post. That is not where I get my ideas.”

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon This isn’t medical marijuana

    As state legislators debated allowing the use of an extract from marijuana plants to treat seizure disorders over the past couple of weeks, it was evident that social conservatives – there are many of them in the General Assembly – felt a tinge of unease about it, even as almost every one of them voted yes.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Friends and contentment

    Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thanks for the honest deed

    I would like to thank the person that found my wallet in the parking lot of Harris Teeter on July 23 and turned it in to the Albemarle Police.

    July 29, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

    The terms of office for the leaders of the Stanly County Veterans Council ended June 30. A call is being sent to veterans council members requesting candidates for the four elective offices of the council. A meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the DAV building. All council members are urged to attend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
    People are dumb.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content