So everyone knows that in college, reading for fun is not a popular activity. Lengthy rosters for book clubs are not in existence, conversations about the latest Stephen King novel have vanished, and leisurely reading doesn’t even come close to making it on to the “things to do this weekend” list. However, Michael Patrick Welch has succeeded in capturing audiences with his wildly free-spirited tale, interestingly called The Donkey Show. From the title to the cover to the content, Welch has seemingly found the perfect combination. True to marketing style, the book attracts attention: its cover proudly decorated with stars and a target encircling nothing other than a donkey, the book screams to be picked up. And one look at the bottom line reading, “written and performed by the white bitch” seals the deal. Who wouldn’t want to pick up a book with a donkey, a target and a line stating that the author is a “white bitch”?
The Donkey Show is divided into acts with each act separated into chapters, comically named His Story, The Story (proper), and Love Story. The acts unfold the story of Patrick, a free spirit who, after quitting his job as a writer for a paper in Tampa, Florida, escapes to Costa Rica; only to finally come to rest in world famous French-inspired New Orleans. Much like Welch’s own story, Patrick is a free spirit, moving from place to place with no ties and with utter faith that everything will fall in to place. Brought to the bluesy city by a friend he met in Costa Rica, Patrick moves into the back room of some stately white plantation home and splits his time in the city between work and sitting at the coffeehouse across the street from his beloved abode. Work also only occurs when Patrick needs to pay rent and consists of jobs such as bussing tables, working at an animal shelter, and teaching at an inner city school. Except for Patrick’s neighbor who is a tarot reader, he is rather friendless, scouring the city with his bike for life. The middle chapters of the book begin to describe the debauchery that occurs during Mardi Gras, one of the wildest parties on earth that takes place in late February, early March. Holding the readers’ attention, the rest of the story depicts a tale of love, friendship, and in the end, pure irony.
Despite the fact that the story is a following of someone’s life, Welch’s writing style, mixed with a unique sense of humor, keeps the attraction. Even before reading the first sentence, the “author’s notes” including reminders to spell check street names, watch for any inconsistency, and use more descriptions of body language, foreshadow the humor interlaced in the text. Still wondering about that title? According to Patrick, the idea for The Donkey Show comes from a co-worker at a fine dining restaurant named Jude, apparently at a show in Mexico where women have sex with a donkey is related to the food industry, “making money and getting fucked.”
Cover to cover The Donkey Show is an entertaining account of the daily life of a free spirit, a characteristic that many humans yearn for. Quoted by Welch, “…his curiosity had tried to swallow all of these things, it has devoured and appropriated them.” Reflecting the quote, The Donkey Show peaks curiosity and keeps it, an endangered trait when it comes to college reading. Read The Donkey Show when you get tired of reading endless chapters of text books and realize that words on a page can be entertaining.
Joanna Davila can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .