Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Arts/Entertainment

January 9, 2014

Smiling through life

Former local writer shares everyday nuances in book

The book starts with an introduction starring a doughnut — a glazed jelly cruller that not only oozes with calories (260), but also oozes with a comedic approach to life in short essay style that will keep readers amused to the end.

Titled “Calling New Delhi for Free” ($9 paperback), it’s the handiwork of former Andover Townsman reporter and longtime writer Susan Kramer O’Neill.

O’Neill used to live in Andover with her family — husband Paul and two kids — but now calls Brooklyn, N.Y. home.

“I used to work as a reporter (at the Townsman) back when dinosaurs walked the Earth (1985 or ‘86 or so, during the Bob Finneran era) and was recently startled to see the Little League team from 25 years ago staring at me from my computer on the Townsman website,” O’Neill said in an email. “So, I quickly sent links to my husband and my son, who coached and played for a non-competing team in that era.”

This is O’Neill’s second book and it reminds her very much of her long-ago weekly newspaper gig in Andover. She wrote a weekly humor column for the paper “back in the day.”

“Don’t know that anybody would remember me from that time, but I guess I can say the job gave me my start down the essay trail,” she said.

She continues her trademark style in “Calling New Delhi,” offering humorous takes on family, social media, tech support, travel, war and one presidential inauguration. But today’s technology craze is what clearly gets this author’s goat.

O’Neill said many of her columns are musings on how technology messes with the minds of mere humans. The book title reflects her frustrations.

“It’s kind of a symptom of the age and a symbol of the tech craziness,” she said. “So many times, we idiots start on the path to tend to some faulty product we’ve bought somewhere by making a simple phone call — only to find ourselves talking to New Delhi,” O’Neill said.

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