To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: An American Novel

Mutt Press
3
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This is the story of J. D. Wiswall, a sincere young man from a small town, who joins a state government agency in a data entry department comprised of quirky clerks. Quickly endearing himself to the diverse group in Unit 3, J. D. learns his coworkers have a pact to share the $10,000 prize if they win a cost-savings program for a suggestion that could save the government money, in turn helping them rise above their own personal struggles. A multimillion-dollar cost-savings suggestion is accidentally discovered by J. D.'s supervisor, the goof-off alcoholic Brent Baker. This lucrative discovery catches the attention of crotchety Governor Dwayne Bennett, a media-hungry demagogue, who turns the coworkers of Unit 3 into props for his selfish political reasons. The publicity surrounding the clerks piques the interest of a newspaper reporter, Esther Jean Stinson, whose investigative reporting threatens to reveal the governor's career-ending secret, as well as jeopardizes the prize that the clerks so desperately desire.


Along with J. D. and Brent, the lives of the amiable coworkers in Unit 3 are revealed. There is Rita Jackson, the kind matriarch of her large brood, who spends her time outside of work caring for her five struggling children and thirteen wily grandchildren. Then there's Deborah Martinez, a single mother to a felonious son, who struggles to keep her head above her sinking financial woes. There's also Conchino Gonzalez, a quiescent giant of Mexican and Japanese descent, who street races at night to relieve worries about his ailing grandfather in Japan. Finally, J. D. has dreams bigger than his small hometown can provide, and Brent wants nothing more than to drop the bureaucratic routine to become a rock star with his bar band.


A few blocks away from the agency that houses Unit 3, Governor Bennett, a smarmy politician who whizzes around the Governor's Mansion on a gold-plated wheelchair, parades the unwitting clerks in front of the local media in an attempt to raise his sagging poll numbers. But reporter Esther Jean sees through the governor's bald-faced motives and uncovers secrets not meant to be revealed. Will her revelations keep Unit 3 from receiving their elusive prize?


From award-winning writer Scott Semegran, To Squeeze a Prairie Dog is an American, modern-day tale with working-class folks—part fable, part satire, and part comedy—revealing that camaraderie amongst kind-hearted friends wins the day over evil intentions.


"An amusing yet heartwarming romp... To Squeeze a Prairie Dog is an entertaining slice-of-life story that's humorous yet uplifting at the same time. By the novel's last page, readers will be longing for more." — BlueInk Reviews (Starred Review)


"To Squeeze a Prairie Dog paints a rollicking story that careens through the office structure to delve into the motivations, lives, and connections between ordinary individuals... an uplifting, fun story." — Midwest Book Review


"A comic sendup of state government that remains lighthearted, deadpan, and full of affection for both urban and rural Texas." — Kirkus Reviews


"An accomplished tale... a recommended read for fans of humor, drama, and office politics." — Readers' Favorite Book Reviews. 5 stars.


"Fascinating and heartfelt." — IndieReader

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About the author

Scott Semegran is an award-winning writer of humorous fiction with a dose of heart. BlueInk Review described him best as “a gifted writer, with a wry sense of humor.” His latest book is a comic sendup of state government—an entertaining slice-of-life story that’s humorous yet uplifting at the same time—titled To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: An American Novel. His previous novel, Sammie & Budgie, was the first place winner for Fiction in the 2018 Texas Authors Book Awards. His book BOYS was the 2018 IndieReader Discovery Awards winner for Short Stories. His other books include The Meteoric Rise of Simon Burchwood, The Spectacular Simon Burchwood, Modicum, and Mr. Grieves. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, four kids, two cats, and a dog. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Mutt Press
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Published on
Feb 1, 2019
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Pages
332
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ISBN
9780578409924
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Humorous / General
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Satire
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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THE BESTSELLING, AWARD-WINNING BOOK WITH THREE CAPTIVATING STORIES


2018 IndieReader Discovery Awards: Winner for Short Stories


"The writing is sharp and unpretentiously thoughtful... An endearing collection that deftly captures the need for youthful fellowship." -- Kirkus Reviews


These are the stories of three boys living in Texas: one growing up, one dreaming, and one fighting to stay alive in the face of destitution and adversity. There's second-grader William, a shy yet imaginative boy who schemes about how to get back at his school-yard bully, Randy. Then there's Sam, a 15-year-old boy who dreams of getting a 1980 Mazda RX-7 for his sixteenth birthday but has to work at a Greek restaurant to fund his dream. Finally, there's Seff, a 21-year-old on the brink of manhood, trying to survive along with his roommate, working as waiters and barely making ends meet. These three stories are told with heart, humor, and an uncompromising look at what it meant to grow up in Texas during the 1980s and 1990s.


The writing of Scott Semegran has been praised by bestselling author / Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Davy Rothbart as "Hilarious, poignant, and twisted." Award-winning cartoonist Emily Flake described the fiction of Scott Semegran as "Funny, sweet, dark, and sad, Scott Semegran's stories create a wholly convincing world of love, loss, and fear. His light touch with heavy subjects is a gift, and his forays into silliness are a delight."


"Verdict: With nary a dull moment, Scott Semegran's BOYS features short stories filled with unexpected nuances that draws readers right into the heart of his well-developed characters." -- IndieReader. 5 Stars. IR Approved. Best Reviewed Books of 2017.


"Semegran's work is evocative and replete with relatable, recognizable characters... who find comfort in friendship. With its descriptive flair and flashes of humor, Boys offers an engaging read--one short fiction fans are sure to enjoy." -- BlueInk Review


"Raising difficult questions of morality, this slice-of-life narrative is as heartfelt as it is entertaining... Boys is compellingly realistic fiction. Its fantastic details, interesting construction, and humor make it worth the read." -- Foreword Clarion Reviews. Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5.

A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, “a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century” (Time), featuring a new introduction by Kevin Powers, author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds
 
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
 
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.”

An instant bestseller, Slaughterhouse-Five made Kurt Vonnegut a cult hero in American literature, a reputation that only strengthened over time, despite his being banned and censored by some libraries and schools for content and language. But it was precisely those elements of Vonnegut’s writing—the political edginess, the genre-bending inventiveness, the frank violence, the transgressive wit—that have inspired generations of readers not just to look differently at the world around them but to find the confidence to say something about it. Authors as wide-ranging as Norman Mailer, John Irving, Michael Crichton, Tim O’Brien, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Strout, David Sedaris, Jennifer Egan, and J. K. Rowling have all found inspiration in Vonnegut’s words. Jonathan Safran Foer has described Vonnegut as “the kind of writer who made people—young people especially—want to write.” George Saunders has declared Vonnegut to be “the great, urgent, passionate American writer of our century, who offers us . . . a model of the kind of compassionate thinking that might yet save us from ourselves.”

Fifty years after its initial publication at the height of the Vietnam War, Vonnegut's portrayal of political disillusionment, PTSD, and postwar anxiety feels as relevant, darkly humorous, and profoundly affecting as ever, an enduring beacon through our own era’s uncertainties.

“Poignant and hilarious, threaded with compassion and, behind everything, the cataract of a thundering moral statement.”—The Boston Globe
AN AWARD-WINNING NOVEL


"Engaging and fun, with wonderfully crafted characters." — Derf Backderf, award-winning and bestselling creator of the graphic novel My Friend Dahmer


"Sammie & Budgie is instantly absorbing, its affable narrator hooking you with wit and whimsy, then reeling you into the boat, where larger revelations await. Scott Semegran is a lively, vivid storyteller, and this book will delight readers of all ages, while leaving them with plenty to ponder about their own lives. I loved this book!" — Davy Rothbart, author of My Heart is an Idiot, creator of Found Magazine, and contributor to public radio's This American Life


"Illustrated throughout by Semegran, this book is the author's best... An unconventional, beguiling, and endearing family tale." — Kirkus Reviews


From Kindle bestselling writer and cartoonist Scott Semegran, Sammie & Budgie is a quirky, mystical tale of a self-doubting IT nerd and his young son, who possesses the gift of foresight. The boy's special ability propels his family on a road trip to visit his ailing grandfather, a prickly man who left an indelible stamp on the father and son. The three are connected through more than genetics, their lives intertwined through dreams, imagination, and longing.


Simon works as a network administrator for a state government agency, a consolation after a promising career as a novelist flounders. He finds himself a single parent of two small children following the mysterious death of his adulterous wife. From the ashes of his failed marriage emerges a tight-knit family of three: a creative, special needs son, a hyperactive, butt-kicking daughter, and the caring, sensitive father. But when his son's special ability reveals itself, Simon struggles to keep his little family together in the face of adversity and uncertainty.


Sammie is a creative third-grader that draws adventures in his sketchbook with his imaginary friend, Budgie, a parakeet that protects him from the monsters inhabiting his dreams. Sammie is also a special needs child but is special in more ways than one. He can see the future. Sammie seemingly can predict events both mundane and catastrophic in equal measure. But when he envisions the suffering of his grandfather, the family embarks on a road trip to San Antonio with the nanny to visit the ailing patriarch.


Sammie & Budgie is an illustrated novel brought to you from the quirky mind of writer and cartoonist Scott Semegran. The novel explores the bond between a caring father and his children, one affected by his own thorny relationship with his surly father, and the connection he has with his sweet son is thicker than blood, going to the place where dreams are conceived and realized.


This is the third book in the Simon Adventures Series which includes The Meteoric Rise of Simon Burchwood, The Spectacular Simon Burchwood, and Sammie & Budgie.


"The novel's delights abound... Semegran is a gifted writer, with a wry sense of humor." — BlueInk Review (Starred Review)


"The writing quality is excellent and the dialogue between Simon and Sammie is immersive." — Foreword Clarion Reviews. Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5.


First Place Winner for General Fiction: Sammie & Budgie - 2018 Texas Authors Book Awards


First Place Winner for Fiction: Sammie & Budgie - 2018 Texas Authors Book Cover Awards

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