Milton Lumky was great. I don’t mean the book was great, because it wasn’t, but the character of Milton Lumky was terrific. It’s too bad he is only in his eponymous book for about forty pages.
Twenty-four-year-old Bruce Stevens passes through his small hometown near Boise, Idaho. At a party there he meets Susan Faine. Turns out she was his fifth grade teacher, but they get married even though she’s eleven years older than him. Bruce quits his job at a discount department store in Reno, and he helps her run her mimeograph shop in Boise.
On a tip from the traveling salesman Milton Lumky, Bruce picks up a load of imported typewriters in Seattle to sell in their store, but he neglects to notice they have a Spanish keyboard. First he tries to unload them to his old discount shop without telling them about the keyboards, but when Susan alerts his old boss, Bruce tries to change the keyboards over to a standard keyboard himself so he and Susan can still sell them for a profit. Behind Bruce’s back Susan arranges for his old boss to buy the typewriters from them, and even though they would break even, Bruce gets angry and leaves. The story wraps up on Bruce’s daydream where he imagines he and Susan open a shop in Denver after the success of their Boise store.
According to Dick’s foreword: ‘The ending is a happy one. What more can an author say? What more can he give?’
Cast of characters
- Bruce ‘Skip’ Stevens – our protagonist
- Susan Faine – owns a mimeograph shop in Boise. Bruce’s former fifth grade teacher
- Peg Googer – Bruce’s old girlfriend
- Ed von Scharf – Bruce’s boss at the C.B.B. discount department store in Reno
- Zoe de Lima – Susan’s business parter at R & J Mimeographing Service
- Taffy – Susan’s seven-year-old daughter
- Milton Lumky – a traveling salesmen in the western U.S.
- Cathy Hermes – Lumky’s friend in Pocatello, Idaho