We get to follow a family who enjoys a simple life in their simple town. They are just going about everyday routines when a stranger arrives in town --- an auctioneer. This stranger starts encouraging people to get rid of items they may not need - almost regardless of physical condition - with hopes that the money can be used to expand the town and its police and security. And that is just what the auctioneer wants the townspeople to think, but he has some sinister and nasty agenda on his mind. Essentially, he is trying .... to.... make... the town great... again.... *slams face into wall repeatedly* The town is full of sheeple who just all start falling in line... and it seems no one is really questioning what is going on. Everyone is remaining silent and just giving away their things. It really frosts my cookies watching people witness evil and wrongdoing and not say or do anything... but this was the 70s, so maybe expectations and behaviors were different then. But watching this happen, I thought of myself as Sebastian from The Neverending Story screaming at the characters as if they could hear me. I mean SCREAMING! One time I slung the book to the end of the couch. I was flabbergasted at the whole situation!
This book makes you feel uneasy and, at times, a little gross. And when I say gross, that may not be the best word --- maybe 'disgusted' is a better choice. It's a fine line between the two, I know that much.
Twitter: Alex | IG: FindingMontauk1 | LOHF
Janelle Janson @ She Reads with Cats
By Joan Samson
Harlow, New Hampshire is a quaint small town. It’s a farm town where everyone knows your name and your business. One day a stranger comes to town. Perly Dunsmore moves into an old home in the city and sets up an auction house. To ingratiate himself to the town, he offers to do a benefit auction with donated items to help raise money for the sheriff’s deputies. The only problem is, there aren’t any deputies. Harlow is a sickeningly safe town, and the sheriff has had it covered with no problems. Perly, however, will not be dissuaded and sets to convince the town they need deputies. Once the town agrees, and Perly goes around asking for donations for the auction. The town pulls together and donates some quality pieces, and the auction is a massive success. The town has deputies, way more than enough deputies. Perly continues to have auctions asking for donations from the town and people more and more of their belongings to Perly. Eventually, people begin to run out of possessions to donate, but Perly’s auctions continue, and donations must be provided OR ELSE.
I didn’t care for this book at first. I thought it was boring and that nothing was happening. I told some friends that I was close to putting it down. Looking back on this story, I can’t help but think about the fable of the boiling frog. The frog doesn’t realize anything is wrong because the temperature of the water is rising so slowly that it seems as if nothing has changed until the frog is all cooked up by then it’s too late. The thing about this book is by the time you realize that anything is happening, so much has happened. Everything that Perly says makes sense until all of a sudden it doesn’t, and by that time, it’s too late. Can the town of Harlowe be saved from Percy and his auctions, or would it be best just to pack up and leave?
There are many parallels between this book and the current political climate of the world. Perly is an avatar for the rise of fascism across the globe, and the citizens of Harlowe are all of us, sitting by while it happens, only realizing the problem when it may be too late to stop. The truly WILD part is that this book, which so perfectly mirrors our world in 2020, was first released in 1975. If you’re worried that this will all seem overworked and forced, it doesn’t come off that way. If you’re reading this and bored, I’m asking you to power through the parts where you feel nothing is happening because when you look back on them, you’ll see how much was lurking under the surface.
I give The Auctioneer four stars for making me outrageously uncomfortable not only while I was reading it but for days after I finished.