Drunken Angel by Charles Stoll is an adventure in language reading from the beginning of the novel. Chapter One presents the reader with a mystery. There is an old man in a senior citizen care center who is either about to die a natural death or possibly be murdered. With one close and very unhappy relative in attendance, the chapter concludes as readers meet Protagonist Daisy Pearlman. She makes the briefest of appearances in Chapter One but with Chapter Two, “Age 7,” the novel is all about Daisy and her evolution from a naturist, humanist philosopher to a sort of superhero righting wrongs and, finally, back to a philosopher.
Here is the type of language a preponderance of characters will use from Chapter Two all the way to a point 45% through the novel:
“Ya hear dat, Daisy? Would ya like ta become a woman?” her mother cooed. Daisy cowered in fear. “No, Ah hate ya. Ah don’t want to be like ya. And Ah hate him, too.” (Kindle Locations 116-118).
At Chapter “Age 43,” Daisy will meet an eleven-year-old girl named Dorothy (or Dody) who will make it a mission to teach Daisy correct pronunciation, English grammar, and reading. Within a few chapters, readers will encounter standard English. This interesting side road with language frames the context of Daisy’s evolution from a primitive social person to a weapon in the battle for social justice.
Daisy grew up less than poor in a house with a prostitute mother who would just as soon include Daisy as part of a package deal in her daily business. Mom never bought anything for Daisy, to include food, so Daisy became independent early on, from the age of four. The only thing “Mutta” taught Daisy was methods for making strawberry hooch as well as how to construct a still. Unappreciated and more than resentful (thoughts of matricide) Daisy constructed a shack deep in the woods where she lived alone and plied the only trades she knew, prostitution and the production of bootleg alcohol.
Through most of her life, the same resentment Daisy felt for her mother enlarged to become a general resentment toward anyone Daisy felt looked down on her or treated her as a type of sub-human. Daisy did not passively accept ill-treatment and stew in her misery. She acted to right wrongs, first for herself and then for people important to her. She became feared by some, respected by others, and a person to be left alone and avoided unless necessary. This was her superhero phase.
But with education and the opportunity for wider reading, Daisy began to question the morality of her everyday existence and actions. The central core of her being never changed. Things in life needed to be in balance. She spent hours and days meditating on an image of a circle that contained the Yin and Yang. She felt the two forces were in constant flux and conflict. When either the Yin or Yang was dominant, there were disruptions in nature, such as weather and natural disasters, or disruptions in human nature, such as when evil triumphed through the acts of serial killers and pedophiles. Daisy believed the world would be better if balanced. When it was not, Daisy felt an obligation to act as an equalizer.
This novel is interesting in almost every way. The one drawback that makes it less than a five-star novel is the frequent moral ruminations of Daisy. Once Daisy begins to question herself and her actions, she doesn’t advance her thinking so much as repeat the same questions over and over. I still gave the novel four Amazon stars and recommend it highly to students of language. The novel is a great value on Kindle Unlimited (KU).