After I read Lynch’s Bio, I was curious about his writing; two different genres, written under two different names. I read one of his historical fiction books: “A Just and Upright Man,(R.J. Lynch)” and then purchased “Zappa’s Mam’s A Slapper”(John Lynch)
I enjoyed both, but “Zappa’s Mam’s A Slapper” really touched me. This is a book that had so much reality and feeling; I felt I could have been reading a biography, rather than fiction.
Lynch portrays the many aspects of Billy McErlaines journey from life as a child at home with his siblings and their dysfunctional, promiscuous mother, to his involvement with the criminal element in the neighborhood, arriving at a point where he breaks under pressure and commits a felony that results in him being sent to a Young Offenders institution at the age of 14. There he sees more of the vilest sides of humanity. Fortunately, with inspiration and direction from his counselors, he discovers a budding talent with a camera and Photoshop. Both are skills that he takes with him when he is released on parole at the age of 18.
When he returned to society, Billy (known as Zappa) was determined to pull himself out of the environment he grew up in. As I read, I wondered if he could do it, when those around him chose to do the only thing they knew. His mother made my heart ache, and as I read the last couple of chapters, my eyes filled with tears.
In the end, Billy had to make a life altering decision. Would he break the cycle, or would he watch history repeat itself.
This book, made me think about how sheltered my own life has been; also about how important stability and love are for people of all ages. “Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper” is not all about tragedy and despair though—I laughed at times, I admired Billy at times, I shook my head many times, and I feared for him often.
This isn’t a read for the faint of heart: it is a harsh and sometimes ugly look at humanity. It can offer hope for those who struggle to rise above their circumstances; it should open the eyes of others to humility and gratitude for having been dealt a kinder hand. I am not traditionally “religious,” but the phrase “But for the grace of God, there go I…,” came to me.
This book can be purchased at Amazon.com by clicking here.