What the Tiger Said


Fiction - Literary
180 Pages
Reviewed on 04/16/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

ROGER LADD MEMMOTT was born in Salt Lake City to fourth generation Mormons and grew up in the high desert country of southern Utah. His stories and poems have appeared in dozens of magazines, including Sou’wester, Confrontation, and Cumberland Poetry Review. His writing has been called "lyrical," "rhapsodic," "intoxicatingly poetic," "...by turns stunningly beautiful and prosaic," even "breathsnatching."

He is a recipient of the WRITER'S DIGEST NATIONAL BOOK AWARD for his book of poetry, Riding the Absolute. His most recent novel, What the Tiger Said, has been called "a literary gem...a masterpiece of creative writing and uniquely gorgeous, individualistic prose."

What the Tiger Said is a READERS FAVORITE International Book Award Finalist with five 5-Star Reviews: "a rare and distinctive work featuring an unnamed girl who heads deep into the night for a predestined encounter with a tiger and her own accountability for her best friend's death, two fates intertwined in a fiery gem of literary fiction."

Memmott lives on the West Coast with his wife, family...and dogs.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

What the Tiger Said is a gem of literary fiction written by Roger Ladd Memmott. Stress is heavily on the word ‘literary’ in this precise description. Not for any false pretensions of affected literariness, but because this short novel, told with the impetus and in-the-moment vividness of a slightly extended short story, is a minor masterpiece of creative writing and uniquely gorgeous, individualistic prose. From the very first sentence, Memmott establishes an immense talent for creating intensely evocative, surrealistic, magical, formidably incredible while impeccably credible, deeply human scenes. The reader awakens to a little girl sitting all alone inside a darkened boxcar home, finishing her apple dinner, listening to the rain outside, knowing that her Paps is once again in jail. Within moments, the reader is immersed in an almost hallucinogenic world of circus-like unreality, homeless figures, errant drifters, a revenant child friend, and a tiger on the loose. “When she looked for her face in the window, it wasn’t her face… She knew it wasn’t her face because she wasn’t grinning, but the face in the window was.”

Thus begins the slightly apocalyptic tale of What the Tiger Said by Roger Ladd Memmott. With allusions both to Little Red Riding Hood and Wonder Woman, our little boxcar girl moves with the introspective power of a simple yet impervious metaphor, manifesting naïve innocence with the willfulness of fate, a determined speck of life amidst the forewarned End-Times. Target of the drifters, befriender of an orangutan escapee – like the tiger – and holder of several golden Tickets to Heaven lifted from the would-be kidnappers, our little girl heads deep into the night for her predestined encounter with a tiger and her own accountability for a death, two fates intertwined in a fiery gem of literary fiction.

Jack Magnus

What the Tiger Said is a literary fiction novel written by Roger Ladd Memmott. She was on her own right now since Paps got himself locked up in jail again. Before, when Paps was in jail, other grownups would take care of her, but she was older and would be fine on her own now. There wasn’t any food in the boxcar she shared with her dad, except for a can of tomato soup. Since she couldn’t find their can opener, even that can would do her no good now. She could, and probably would, go visit Flossie and Joe in their own converted boxcar. Flossie made fresh cookies and bread, and she was sure Flossie would set out a big sandwich for her loaded with tuna and mayonnaise on fresh bread. Joe liked to smoke a pipe, which he called magical, and he even let her try it once over Flossie’s protestations. She even had a best friend living in the third boxcar from hers. Suzi Collister lived there. Suzi had a toothbrush and minty flavored toothpaste that she let her try. Adults got kind of strange when she brought up Suzi.

In What the Tiger Said, Roger Ladd Memmott places the reader into the mindset of an isolated young girl as she tries to survive on her own while her father is in jail. The author enables you to feel her fear when two strangers try to trick her into opening the door at night. Memmott sets up a rich and atmospheric scene filled with the fear and panicked sounds of the animals in the stockyards; the seductive, deadly steam rising up from the steam pits; and the oddly placed boxcars converted into houses that perch incongruously in the stark industrial setting. Memmott’s characters are credible and authentic, and his plot enfolds the reader and transports them to that place of stockyards, trains, and lost souls. What the Tiger Said is most highly recommended.

Peggy Jo Wipf

What the Tiger Said by Roger Ladd Memmott is a rare and distinctive work for children, featuring an unnamed young girl who lives in a small boxcar community. Her innocence is endearing as she is left alone when her father is jailed for a short time. Neighbors watch over her, but her free spirit keeps her on the run. Plus, she must keep an eye on Suzi’s ghost since no one else can see her. Suzi has warned her of events that were about to take place and shown her a way to safety when a man with tattoos and a woman with blue eyes threaten to take her away. Then there is the monkey and the tiger that have escaped from the local zoo. This young girl learns much about friendship, secrets, and honesty. Yet there are questions of life she has yet to discover.
 
Roger Ladd Memmott does not lay all the facts out for his readers. What the Tiger Said will cause the reader to ponder on the life of this child as she distinguishes friends from foe, paths to heaven, and why her friend’s ghost is stuck here. This novel takes you to an unfamiliar world where various things happen to this girl in twenty-four hours. The author formulates an extraordinary topic and builds a remarkable story that will amaze the reader with the zigzags of this girl’s thoughts and actions. The author causes the reader to connect with this girl through a series of emotions; pity, amazement, and the hope that better days may be ahead for her. Will the author continue her story? This story was complete and we leave her to discover a new world on her own.

K.C. Finn

What the Tiger Said is a short work of literary fiction on the theme of young adult life experience, penned by author Roger Ladd Memmott. Set up as a novella-length prequel to the heroic odyssey novel Nebraska’s Map, here we meet a relatively helpless youngster as the stage is set for a much wider story later on. We begin with a nameless young girl as she lives in boxcars, dreaming about adventure and the superheroes of her comics. But when it seems that her dreams could become real and heaven is just around the corner, danger and intrigue lurk at every turn.

One of the things which I enjoyed the most about Roger Ladd Memmott’s writing was the attention to detail and the unusual selection of words when describing the people and places of this work. I knew the girl instantly, a wispy waif of a thing that you immediately want to root for, like a diamond in the rough. The world in which she grows and learns is both gritty and real but also ethereal and beautiful, combining fantasy and reality in such a way that it becomes hard to tell them apart. Through the confusion, the tale is narrated with confidence, switching scenes with ease and never leaving a reader wondering too much before those big questions are answered. Overall, What the Tiger Said is a work of true literary standard, beautifully written and accessible enough to be enjoyed by all readers. I would highly recommend this novella as a great introduction to Memmott’s works.

Sandy Masia

What The Tiger Said by Roger Ladd Memmott tells the story of little a girl who goes on an overnight eerie adventure after two dodgy characters come by her boxcar house while her dad is away in jail. “Paps was in jail again. Paps was in jail and she hardly knew what to do with herself” has to be one of my favorite opening lines to a book, for its sheer significance to the story. And this book is filled with remarkable and memorable lines like these, whose simplicity and straightforwardness shouldn’t fool you. Roger Ladd Memmott weaves these intriguing bits with insightful philosophical musings. What The Tiger Said is full of delectable literary mind candy.

There is an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland quality to What The Tiger Said but with more realism instead of fantasy. It never ceases to be interesting, engaging and teasing. The story is primarily told through the eyes of the child, in how a child’s mind tries to conceptualize and understand the complexities of the world, religion, socio-economic issues, morality and grief. These are big issues that nonetheless children try to make sense of from an early age, and there is something truly insightful and fascinating about looking at the world in this childlike, innocent way that strips away the pretentious bits and grasps at the core. Roger Ladd Memmott’s prose is elegant; it’s rich, poetic and enchanting, making an already unusual story even more absorbing. I found myself wishing never to leave this world as the pages turned, so it's a good thing then that this is a prequel to Nebraska’s Map. What The Tiger Said reads well as an American classic.