I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Phoenix, Arizona
Genre: Memoir
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 9780974753461, $10.00, 143 pp.

Refreshing!!! Nice to know I still have a sense of humor. Was beginning to wonder after reviewing several books hyped as witty or wickedly funny which weren't...at least to me.

Basically, B-Shifter is 13 chapters and multiple short stories from Nick Brunacini’s life as a second generation firefighter in the Phoenix Fire Department. He starts with his father, Alan Brunacini, and family; describes fire station life–cooking, cleaning, shifts, cult attitudes; tells about women, fighting fires, and emergency services; and ends with “Our dysfunctional family helping your dysfunctional family.”

Besides being hilarious, the book is very informative. In Chapter 5, we learn what the title B-Shifter means:

“Most organizations with around-the-clock staffing have three eight-hour shifts. Fire departments don’t. Our ancients chose to work 24-hour shifts. Instead of having morning, swing and graveyard shifts, we have A, B and C shifts. If you were to visit a fire station every day for a week, you might not notice much difference between the shifts assigned to that station. To the casual observer, the firefighters pretty much look and act the same. This changes dramatically once you join the organization and get categorized as an A-, B- or C-shifter. The shifts’ personalities are at the core of all of our stereotypes and are also the stuff of legend.”

Nick Brunacini is a consummate, educated writer with a special gift–humor, and it’s Nick’s humor and honesty that define his writing style and make this memoir unique. The book is extremely well edited and very tight. Here’s another brief sample from page 13:

“When I was 6 years old, I wanted to be a Chevy truck. I have been imbalanced most of my life, but this is not entirely my fault. I was forcibly pulled from my mother’s womb with a set of stainless-steel salad tongs. Adding insult to injury, the doctor proceeded to smack me hard on the ass, and the very next day, some sadistic bastard cut off part of my dick. This series of events was so traumatic, I wasn’t able to walk for a year. I have spent my life coping with these weighty issues.”

To me, the essence of B-Shifter is expressed by the Chinese word ‘jen’–sometimes defined as benevolence, but a better definition might be ‘humanheartedness’.

Confucius considered jen to be the highest virtue but one he refused to define. It is above righteousness, justice, and propriety and involves the principle that human nature is a fundamentally good arrangement, including not only our virtuous side but also our passionate side, our appetites and our wayward inclinations, or what Alan Watts liked to call ‘the element of irreducible rascality’, that God put into all human beings and put it there because it was a good thing. It was good for human beings to have these two elements in them. So, a truly humanhearted person is a gentleman with a slight touch of rascality, just as one has to have salt in a stew. Confucius said “the goodie-goodies are the thieves of virtue,” meaning that to try to be holy righteous is to go beyond humanity.

Humanheartedness ...you won’t be disappointed, and the price is right.

Kaye Trout - September 27, 2009