The Poor Sucker by Kelly DeLong.
Publication Date: June 15, 2013
Also available for the Kindle
Eighteen year old Eddie believes finding a girlfriend will solve his loneliness. He has always been shy around girls and, because of his self doubt, he has never dated. He has spent his teenage years in his bedroom by himself, watching TV, listening to music and looking at his baseball cards. But when he meets April and her family everything changes. Eddie’s love for April and his desire to break away from his past completely blind him to the serious problems with April and her family. His need to belong prevents Eddie from seeing that April’s family has its own deep-rooted psychological problems. Undaunted, Eddie makes up his mind to work harder and harder to make April see that he loves her no matter what, and that nothing she does will change his mind.
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Praise for The Poor Sucker
I almost felt guilty laughing at this young man’s tragic love for his girlfriend. But in The Poor Sucker, Kelly DeLong gives me permission to do so, and more--permission to love, pity, and ultimately cheer for his character. A strong first novel.
--René Saldaña, Jr., author of A Good Long Way and The Whole Sky Full of Stars
Kelly DeLong's novel "The Poor Sucker" is an authentic, well-wrought, heart-wise rendition of what it is to grow up, survive love, and find one's place in the world. In Eddie's wishes and desires, readers will catch glimpses of their own dreams, and his frustrations and anxieties will have readers nodding in empathetic recognition.
--Tom Noyes, author of Behold Faith and Spooky Action at a Distance
About the Author
Kelly DeLong is originally from Center Valley, Pennsylvania and currently lives in Duluth, Georgia. He teaches English at Clark Atlanta University. His short stories and essays have appeared in The Sun, Evansville Review, Jabberwock Review, Roanoke Review, and Palo Alto Review, among others. He has won the Willow Review Fiction Award, the Agnes Scott Fiction Award, and the Georgia State University Fiction Award. He has also been a finalist for the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, the Sol Books Prose Contest and the St. Lawrence Book Award.
The Poor Sucker is available from Follett Library Services, YBP, Coutts, Brodart, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram Book Distributors.
The Poor Sucker
Eddie had so many questions. Eighteen and in love for the first time, he found that there were so many things he didn’t know. When and how often should he shower his girlfriend April with roses? How much should he spend on a diamond necklace for her? How often should he see her? Was every waking hour too much? How often should he tell her he loved her? Should he tell her every hour on the hour? Should he tell her family that he loved her? Would they love him? Just where did her family fit in with his love of her? And there were questions yet to come he couldn’t anticipate, questions that confused him and made him even more unsure of himself since they never arose in all the TV shows and movies about teenage romance that he used as his guide. Take, for example, the questions that arose on a cold Sunday, two months into their dating.
They were working on familiarizing each other with family history and background. That’s why April set up the slide projector and screen. They leaned into each other on the sofa as April narrated the stories that accompanied the two-foot-tall pictures of people in out-of-date clothes. Eventually, a smiling family in front of a Christmas tree gave way to a pretty, young Asian woman in a kimono sitting demurely on a red sofa. April paused on that picture. “My father was in the army,” she said. “He was stationed in Korea for a time. That was his girlfriend there.”
There were several more slides of the pretty Korean woman by herself and with a young looking Mr. Bennett long before his hair turned gray and he grew a belly. The man who hadn’t said three words to Eddie in the time he’d been dating his daughter, and, who shied away from making eye contact with Eddie, suddenly became a fascination to him. From what he could gather from the scenes depicted in the slides, there had been a time when Mr. Bennett smiled.
Then simultaneously Eddie heard two things—heavy footsteps on the stairs and April whispering, “Uh oh.” Mrs. Bennett stepped into the living room and looked at the picture on the screen. She was a big woman—six feet tall, well over two hundred pounds—with a thick head of graying hair. After seeing the slide on the screen, she shot April a look Eddie didn’t understand and then she walked down the hall to the kitchen, where she turned on the light.
“Here we go,” April said. She sighed and clicked to the next slide.
Less than a minute later Eddie heard something like sobbing coming from the kitchen. “What is that?” he said.
“My mother,” April said. “Is she crying?” “Probably.”
She didn’t say anything.
“Shouldn’t you go find out why she’s crying?”
Again April didn’t say anything. The sobbing got louder. April said,
“Oh, alright.” Groaning, she got up.
Eddie heard some talking, some sniffles and some more crying. The
crying intensified as April came back to the sofa. “What happened?” he said.
“She says I’m causing her a lot of pain.”
“What’s that mean?”
“She says I’m hurting her by looking at these slides of my dad with his
“Did he know your mother then?”
“No, but it doesn’t matter to her.”
“Oh, oh, oh,” came from the kitchen. “I can’t believe she wants to
hurt me like this. I can’t believe my own daughter would do this to me. It’s the worst thing she could ever do to me. How she must hate me. No one loves me in this house.”
April clicked to a slide of herself as a little girl dressed as Mickey Mouse. She laughed at what she saw.
“Oh, oh, oh,” Mrs. Bennett said. “I’m in so much pain, so much pain, and they laugh at me. They laugh.”
“I’m not laughing,” Eddie said to April. “Does she think I’m laughing at her?”
“Just ignore her,” April said and narrated the slides while Mrs. Bennett cried away. Eddie tried to listen to what April was saying, but he found it difficult with Mrs. Bennett going on like that. Should he do something? What?
Mr. Bennett came up from the basement and paused in the living room. He looked at April as if needing an explanation. “I didn’t know your Korea slides were in this box,” she said. He nodded and took off up the stairs.
Soon the crying fizzled out. Eddie stretched his legs out on the coffee table in front of him and smiled at the slides of April and her sister as little girls opening Christmas presents. The whole time he was wondering, what just happened?