3 out of 5: Rocket Man, the latest novel by William Elliot Hazelgrove, chronicles a week in the life of middle-aged Dale Hammer, culminating in a Boy Scout event involving the launching of hundreds of small rockets. Notionally, Hammer is a writer, but his books were written years ago and are out of print. He's struggling to keep his family in their large suburban house by selling mortgages, but he’s a terrible salesman. Hammer’s wife is threatening divorce, his kids are mad at him for constantly breaking his fatherly promises, and his unemployed dad has moved into the room over the garage, formerly Hammer’s writing studio.
Although this book is filled with laugh-inducing episodes, it’s a bit overlong and ends up feeling more like a string of funny events loosely strung together than a cohesive novel. Additionally, Hammer's latent racism (and his father's rather blatant racism) is off-putting at times and unnecessary to the story. Despite these failings, I quite enjoyed this tale of suburban angst and laughed through the whole thing. I could see this as a successful movie starring Will Ferrell.