Publication Date: September 8, 2021
Professor Lenny Thorson lives in a defunct revolving restaurant, obsesses over word derivations, and teaches linguistics at a fourth-rate college with a gerbil for a mascot. Lenny’s thirty-four years have not been easy—he grew up in a junkyard with his widowed father and lives under a cloud of guilt for having killed another boxer as a teenager.
Desperate to save his teaching career, Lenny seizes the opportunity to document the Skalwegian language with its last living speaker, Charlie Fox. Life appears to have finally taken a turn for the better…
Unfortunately for Lenny, it hasn’t. He soon finds himself at war with Charlie, his dean, a ruthless mobster, and his own conscience.
A genial protagonist will keep readers enticed throughout this amusing romp.
~ Kirkus Reviews
Sometimes as a reader, you come across a book that defies all attempts to put it into a pre-determined box. If there is one word that would accurately describe The Last Speaker of Skalwegian by David Gardner, it would have to be “quirky.”
I think I started and stopped reading the first few pages at least three times because it didn’t seem quite like anything I had ever read before. When I finally dove in, I soon realized that I had stumbled on something unique. The author’s writing style is rather tongue in cheek, which provides a fascinating approach to the story. The end result is something brilliant.
Even a description of the cast of characters illustrates the author’s creativity. Front and center is Professor Lenny Thorson, a linguist working to document the Skalwegian language and who gets sidetracked frequently by words and their origins. He is six feet four inches tall and lives in an abandoned rotating restaurant on the top floor of a 10-story building, where he has access to all of the restaurant’s leftover frozen food (lobster tails and boysenberries).
Then there is his friend Charlie Fox who happens to be the last speaker of Skalwegian. He’s retired from the military and wants to live peacefully on the family farm. However, he gets Lenny involved with the language project that must be completed by the end of the year.
There’s also the money-hungry Dean Sheepslappe, who is in cahoots with local mobster Luther Skammer.
Add in The Widow Bahr (who is at the center of Lenny’s nude vs. naked inner word debate), Gerry Gerbil, Juan Jorgenson, and The Lobsterman for some absolutely belly-shaking rounds of laughter. There’s even a reenactment of the Battle of Ghurkin Hill that serves as a catalyst for tying the plot together.
The Last Speaker of Skalwegian takes the prize as the sleeper title of the year for me. The author’s approach is refreshing and certainly outside the norm. A doozy of a secret is just waiting to be revealed…and it could change everything.
David Gardner grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, served in Army Special Forces and earned a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught college and worked as a reporter and in the computer industry. He coauthored three programming books for Prentice Hall, wrote dozens of travel articles as well as too many mind-numbing computer manuals before happily turning to fiction: “The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller” and “The Last Speaker of Skalwegian” (both with Encircle Publications, LLC). He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy, also a writer. He hikes, bikes, messes with astrophotography and plays the keyboard with no discernible talent whatsoever.