This short story/novella, Bucceroni by W. J. Reeves is about a boy who was born into a gangster life, but decided to become a chemistry professor after the death of his father. However, it seems he can’t leave the family trade behind. As a child, Bucceroni was involved in the gangs and fighting. As a college professor he ends up in a poor university where students do not even know their multiplication tables. These students and other professors alike come to him with problems because of his history. This eventually leads him to a bigger problem right under his nose. Can he make it out alive?
As a story there’s some problems with this novella. The first several chapters felt like false starts. To grab a reader’s interest, most plots start with a fast, action grabbing scene that highlights the main problem the character needs to overcome. This story began with the birth of the main character and majority of what happened prior to his father’s death is irrelevant to the story. I thought the conflict was going to be watching the main character overcome his background and become a college professor, but sadly, a lot of these details were left out. The main conflict seemed to come almost at the end of the book when someone was making an attempt at the professor’s life. However, a lot of the scenes really lost me like the scene of Candy getting revenge on her attackers which seemed to include a love scene between her and the main character that felt completely out of place. I will admit I may have read that wrong, but the entire scene just felt like a surreal dream.
The best part of this story was the character of Bucceroni. While the author didn’t necessarily go into much depth on him, the personality of Bucceroni seemed to be well developed. He is an interesting and unique character; having a college professor still fairly actively involved in the thug life and even dealing with fights at the college by getting involved in them himself speaks volumes about who he is as a person. I think if the plot was stronger there is a lot that could be done with this character. Candy is more confusing as a character, but a fitting sidekick for the professor. There were some loose ends for me in wrapping up the conflict that put the professor’s life in danger, however I think the conflict itself is rather intriguing and if it were more developed, I think I would quite enjoy it.
Overall, the weakness of the plot and the lack of introducing the conflict early into the story really weakened this work. I think there are a lot of unique and successful ideas in the plot, and certainly with the characters, yet they missed their mark with the poor structure. The story itself is rather interesting if you can stick with it, but I still feel confused over parts of it. It is, however, a quick read with fun characters and a great conflict towards the end.