David G Grade 3: The Tragicomic Memoir of a Reluctant Atheist
by David Robert Loblaw
Published by Cameron House Media
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$20.00 ISBN 978-0-9959495-0-8
Regina writer David Robert Loblaw – he legally changed his name from David G in his early twenties to eradicate any connection to his mother’s husband, “Maurice-the-piece of-shit” – has published his first book in a series of memoirs, and it’s quite the romp. Over an easy-to-read 207 pages, Loblaw introduces us to his family, including his hard-working single mother, a staunch Roman Catholic; his half-sister sister Yvette, whom he adores; and two half-brothers, whom he does not adore. Other portions David G Grade 3 concern school misadventures, Loblaw’s passion for the Apollo moon missions, and his experiences with the church, including his love for the Bible’s “great stories of adventure”. He’s such a good child he has to make up a sin (“‘I beat up a kid'”) during his first Confession – and thus he commits the sin of lying while in his very first Confession. There’s rich fodder here. As he says, “How can you now love a religion that has human asterisks behind every God-given rule?”
The book’s dedicated thus: “For the two women who created me. My mom and my sister,” and though Loblaw frequently credits his sister for her comedic prowess – whereas his mother was “staid” – I got a laugh right off the hop when he shares that upon telling his mother that he wanted to be a baseball player when he grows up, she responded: “David, the closest you’ll ever get to professional baseball is to get Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. I get that humour’s highly subjective, but to me, this is funny stuff.
But did she really say that? Even the author’s unsure, and such is the nature of memoir: dialogue’s invented, blanks are creatively filled in, and the result is a dynamic text. Loblaw: “All dialogue is, of course, a reconstruction from memory as my mom was too cheap to buy me the spy microphone that I wanted.”
A memoir is only as interesting as its characters, and Loblaw’s family has – well, character! Yvette, a kleptomaniac whose tongue is a “hilarious moral machete,” has young David read the most scintillating bits of the Bible aloud to her laughing friends. Loblaw, who’s ventured into stand-up comedy, writes that his sister’s “clinical dissection of people [ie: nuns] is an art form”.
Brother Louis ventured from Regina to Vancouver during the heart of the hippy years, and devolved into the life of alcoholism and drug addiction that killed him at age 54. Brother “Ape” is so called because he’s born “the world’s hairiest baby”. “Ape is shaving before he leaves elementary school,” Loblaw writes of this “hostile” sibling, who takes after “deadbeat drunk” Maurice. “Mom runs out of paintings and pictures to cover the punch-holes in the walls of our house.”
This book’s worth reading for the hilarious inside cracks on Catholicism alone, ie: “Limbo is like that cool artsy little neighbourhood that is in the bad area of your town.” You’re a funny man, David Robert Loblaw. And not a bad writer, either.
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