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Detailed Book Review
Lost People         
Lost People
By Paul Perry
ISBN: 978-1-929763-15-3
Price: $14.95
Shipping: $4.00
A follow-up to his acclaimed collection Street People, Lost People deals with the menial existences of characters caught up in the everyday struggles for survival. Although, these stories work by themselves, they are more powerful as a whole. Abraham Maslow identified Food, Clothing, and Shelter in his Hierarchy of Needs. Yet, these people, like all of us, need far more than that. For starters: how about love and affection, safety, and a sense of self and self worth? Inside these pages, Mexicans try desperately to cross the border; and people live in buses, in parks, prisons, half-way houses, and under bridges. One man calls home a cardboard box. A profound sense permeates these stories that the author is grateful for the gift of life, for roofs over his head, and for the ability of good and ordinary people to care for each other. In a wonderfully secular way, without being preachy, these tales are a metaphor for good works. There's a lot of befriending here and the endings are hopeful, contemplative, introspective, and courageous, like many of the characters.

Paul Perry continues to advocate for homeless people through his good works and writing.

Lost People is also available as an ebook on Amazon.com for the Kindle.

Book Review Details:
Reviewed Appeared In: Mud Pie Press
Reviewed By: Barbara Elmore
Text Of Review: A person wouldn't mind getting to know Paul Perry's pals in Lost People. To be sure, they aren't the people next door unless you live next door to a park or an underpass. But they are honest and multi-dimensional.

Perry's lost people are the homeless, the mentally ill, old war veterans, ex-cons who served their time for crimes that don't seem all that criminal. These are the people we're all a little bit too scared to look in the eye because we may be just a paycheck or two from sharing their park bench.

And yet...

You have to admire the ingenuity of men and women who use their combined wits and a healthy portion of kindness to subdue a violent man who only needs his "meds." (At the Place)

If Matt kicks his habit (A Matter of Touch), we want to throw a party.

And who wouldn't try to hire the honest man who lost the best pair of shoes he ever had (Barefoot on the Interstate)?

You'll have to keep reminding yourself this is fiction. Reading Perry's colorful descriptions of where these nomads live and how they get through the day, you can't believe he doesn't know each one personally. The authenticity in his tales, the compassion, humor and pathos all tell you he's been there. For example, here's a description of the main character in the tale "Aaron Who Lived on Buses":

Aaron had been living on buses for more than two years. It had started after he ran away from the Army, only an hour after arriving at Fort Jackson...That's how long it had taken him to realize what he was going to have to put up with for four years and, since he hated it already—they were marching them around, making them stand in lines, yelling at them, treating him much like his father had always treated him—he decided he'd better be on his way.

Perry is a retired assistant professor of English at San Antonio (TX) College who teaches despite his retirement. Lost People is his second collection of stories about the disenfranchised -- Street People (2000, Pocol Press) was his first -- and the characters only get better. His stint in the Army and his experiences while living in Japan, Korea, Germany, and several large U.S. cities texturize his writing. But his long stay in Texas (almost four decades) gives him more than passing familiarity with the Lone Star State and its hands-off way of dealing with those who have no boundaries.

Anyone looking for solutions to ending homelessness should not look here. Lost People offers no fixes, quick or otherwise. It doesn't preach and takes no political stand.

But if you have only a passing, guilty awareness of the homeless, if you think they're all criminals or drug addicts, take a look. Perry has a way of gently stretching all boundaries.

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