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Posted June 28, 2013

A Book Review

“Funny Water and Bob” Is a Delightful Read; What’s in that Funny Water?

By Arelya J. Mitchell

If you’re in for a light, fun, fast read then this story – perhaps more of a novelette—is it. Though in the stereotypical vain of small town America, “Funny Water and Bob” by Jack Risin is still a delightful read.   The stereotypical small town aspect doesn’t bother me, because there is a reason why the “Andy Griffith Show” is still popular. Small towns are universal, and nothing travels faster in them like gossip and making judgments.


            Risin describes this Mayberry-like town as: “Even in economically tumultuous times, Vallivue Falls seems to be unaffected.  Just a couple blocks away a main highway

goes north and south through the west edge of town and another goes east and west across the north side.  They bring travelers, trucking, buses and good outside sources of business and income.  Within a few minutes we have skiing in the mountains and lakes for boating and fishing and the ocean is just a few hours away.  The town could not be more idyllic.”

            Risin uses flashbacks to move action and drive characters.  At times it gets a bit murky, but he pulls it all together in this episode of “Funny Water and Bob” which, incidentally is in both novelette and screenplay formats.


            But before you begin, know that ‘Bob’ is Roberta Ebner, a gun-toting dabbler in science, a travel agency owner, and a gutsy outdoors woman.  She is definitely not-every-woman and without flinching can go camping in the mountains without hubby, R.C. or any other body to protect her.


In flashback, you see that free-spirit when Bob in spite of some flu symptoms decides to go alone on a camping trip. Well, her only companions are teddy bears, Betty and Barney, named after the famed Flintstones TV couple.  It’s on this particular trip when Bob accidentally discovers the ‘funny water’ that her troubles begin.


After drinking the spring water, she gradually realizes that her flu symptoms are miraculously disappearing. She puts two and two together, and being an amateur scientist, she proceeds to fill up bottles for further examination in her ‘Think Tank’ which she calls her home lab.


Long story short: Only when her neighbor’s child catches on fire from the backyard grill does Bob discover that the water is not just plain water. Its healing powers are even curing burns.  Gossip about the funny water spreads like wildfire as only it can in a small town.

            As the gossip heats up, it brings in a cast of characters in the form of townspeople, dysfunctional family members, a bunch of ‘Ugly’ thugs, FBI agents, lawmen—you get the picture.


“Funny Water and Bob” begins with the Ugly thugs and their ringleader Big Al kidnapping Bob’s son, Rob, and his girlfriend, Carolyn.  The wild story escalates from there with Risin’s narrator’s voice moving at a fast pace utilizing present-tense to intensify the tone of this comedic drama. As stated earlier, Risin utilizes flashbacks to tie in the characters and action. Mainly action. He uses the Ebner family’s past annual Easter Day event as a jumping off point to connect flashbacks. As I said, sometimes it gets a little murky, but all in all, it works okay.

            As the story moves with flashbacks, you see that not only is the town becoming more gossipy but Bob herself is becoming obsessed with the funny water. Days in her Think Tank mount into months as she experiments to see exactly what’s in this funny water. Her obsession becomes so enormous that her travel agency tanks as she lives in the Think Tank, and frankly her family grows sick of her.

            I won’t give away anymore. And as I indicated this is not Tolstoy but just a quick fun fast-paced read. It is more of a slapstick drama (if one can use slapstick and drama in the same phrase, yet I am taking liberty to adjourn the two) in more of a keystone cop fashion.

             As I said earlier, Risin also has “Funny Water and Bob” in screenplay format as well as a novelette. Naturally, Risin would like to see this as a light movie on either the big screen or small screen. Why not? Many movies have been made in this genre. Why not “Funny Water and Bob”?