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Reviews

Blueink Review (Reviewed: February, 2018)

In Riding This Electron, Hanging on for Dear Life: A Soul Searcher’s Theory of Everything, author Tom Zidik offers life advice and theories about health and the universe, interspersed with an overview of his own life.

Zidik recounts a childhood in central Pennsylvania rich in Americana— milk delivered to his doorstep, Catholic school and its intimidating nuns, the thrill of saving for a first car at 16—all while encircled by a loving home and family. When writing about more current times, he comes across as an incredibly hard worker who takes pride in making a good life for himself and his wife, despite leaving college behind. He invests well and owns property that they live on and love.

Such stories are interspersed with advice to treat people equally, theories about the universe, a whole chapter of highly speculative health advice, and a chapter with photos describing the deer that live on his property.

Riding This Electron, Hanging on for Dear Life is an entertaining memoir when it centers on midcentury America and what it meant to grow up there.

 

KIRKUS REVIEW

A memoir of one baby boomer’s life in Pennsylvania.

Debut author Zidik was born in 1953, the second of six children. He describes his upbringing in Hershey, Pennsylvania, as a happy time; early chapters offer memories of time spent with his maternal grandfather, who would discreetly throw back shots of Four Roses whiskey, and of a time that the author and his family sang along with a Nat King Cole to “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” during a summer drive. Of the latter experience, the author writes, “To this day it hasn’t been…replaced as the most joyful day of my life.” Zidik tells of making it through school and working as a dishwasher. In July 1976, he drove to California in a 1967 Rambler Ambassador with his then-girlfriend, and now wife, Pamela. Although the couple planned to stay in California, unfortunate circumstances sent them back to Pennsylvania to build their lives. The author sprinkles the memoir with bits of advice, such as “It is important to make a basic life plan and follow it as much as you can.” Later chapters tell of Zidik’s respect for the deer population near his home; he includes black-and-white photographs of several deer and their nicknames (such as “Uni,” “Gimpy,” and “Grouchy”). He also offers thoughts on staying healthy (“Your health is dangling on a fine thread, and it could snap at any time”). The book progresses quickly and has the feel of a long, pleasant conversation. The most striking and amusing moments highlight how things were handled differently in the past; for example, when the author, as a 12-year-old, went hunting with his relatives, the main safety advice he received about handling a shotgun was “Do not shoot that airplane” that was passing above. However, the stories have almost no connection to larger events of the era. If the author felt anything about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, for instance, or the mood of the country in the 1970s, or even changes in his home state over his lifetime, such feelings are largely absent here. Nevertheless, readers will find a well-told, though never overbearing, tale of one man’s existence.