BOOK REVIEW: "That's My Story And I'm Stickin' To It"
Last updated 4/23/2021 at 2:22pm
Author! A New Work by Denny DuVall
Long-time local resident Denny DuVall, together with his iconic 1950 panel truck, "Henry," have been virtual fixtures in Borrego Springs for longer than most folks can remember. And for a guy on the other side of 80 who hated school and refused to do homework, he's proven to be one hell of a writer. First as a contributing writer to the Borrego Sun, and now as a published author, he's done what he set his mind to: Write a book and get it published. There will be others.
Denny's first book, That's My Story, and I'm Sticking to It, was the subject of a COVID-protocol book signing outside the old library on March 28, well-attended by over two dozen fans of his columns for our newspaper. While I also wrote and edited for the Sun, I became a friend and a fan, too, quickly realizing that Denny had a style – unique, simple, direct, but also dead-pan funny when he put his mind to it. One of his Sun pieces covering an art exhibit in Julian was simply fall-down funny, and in it he never once used "obsequious" or "countervailing influences" in a sentence. Another piece of art advice from his book:
Steer your wife past "abstract" art. This will probably look to you like the artist used a new piece of canvas to clean his brushes.
Denny covers 70 chapter-topics in his book, beginning with his poignant reflections on dealing with a cancer diagnosis. He also has many first-hand observations on life in and around Borrego, from living off the grid, to car care, to the horrors of his Julian High School days.
High school to me was a four-year prison term that I had to serve for a crime that I couldn't remember committing. I felt like I was confined in a dragon's dark dungeon.
The crossover from having a long life of experiences to writing about them began when Denny was in his 70's. "Yesterday, I couldn't spell writer," he writes, "and today I are one!"
In his early 20's,Denny and many others discovered the communication benefits of CB radio, later morphing into Amateur (Ham) Radio. The man has been connected to the region and the world for 60 years, and long before the Internet emerged where kids received a shortcut to knowledge unheard of in previous generations. By contrast, Denny loves to tell the local kids about our local history at his family homestead called "Old Borego," where an annual event keeps the local history personal and alive for both kids and adults.
Moving from kids to the older set, one of Denny's favorite pastimes is ruffling official feathers, such as those of the "experts" who came up with Daylight Savings Time. In that chapter, one can feel the sting of biting sarcasm in Denny's comparison with local Indian culture and that of their Caucasian counterparts, using a quote by a Native American elder:
Only the white man would cut off the top two inches of a blanket and sew it on the bottom and believe he has a longer blanket!
Of all the experiences one can have in Borrego Springs, the citing of Peninsular Bighorn Sheep is not exactly a rare occurrence. Except for Denny DuVall, that is. In 77 years, he never saw one. So, he wrote a newspaper column about it. And less than a week later, well, read it yourself in his book because my summary is not worthy of the telling of the humorous story, and reflections thereafter, all in his own words.
From sage advice on the not-so-burning local issues of the day to tips for saving money, not wasting time, and successfully navigating from Point-A to Point-B in life, it seems that Denny often listens to the inner voice of Henry the Truck on how to make it through the day. When that doesn't work, he tries to find the humor of it all.
Funny how life has a tendency to just up and bitch-slap you across the face for no reason, other than you were just standing there breathing.
Denny DuVall's engaging first book is a must-read for all Borregans, copies available via Graphics You Can Trust in The Mall, Amazon online, and other outlets where important local literature is offered for sale.
– Michael Sadler
It has been my pleasure to know Denny DuVall for the past 10 years. I got to spend some time with him while we were members of the Old Borego Pioneer Society. I always enjoyed his zest for life, knowledge of automobiles, and willingness to help other people. I just finished reading his first book titled, That's My Story And I'm Stickin' to It.
The book is basically a collection of the articles he wrote for the Borrego Sun and other publications and consists of 70 mostly three-page articles. You can tell by the articles that Denny enjoyed his time of writing for the Sun. The articles run the gamut from Borrego history, automobile history, Denny's philosophies of life, self-help remedies, funny stories and ways to live on a modest budget. I found the book to be fun to read and enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Denny even better.
Whether you agree with all his thoughts are not does not make a difference, the book is an enjoyable escape from our current COVID solitude. You can purchase a copy on Amazon and I would highly recommend that you give it a try.
– Bill Fink