It’s Deja Vu All Over Again: TREE OF SMOKE by Denis Johnson, a Review (of sorts)

As I sit and watch the surreal press conference between Trump and Putin after their so-called historic summit, where, after recently treating our allies like dog shit, Trump behaves like a sycophantic lapdog to a murderous dictator who wants nothing more than to destroy and subjugate the U.S. of America in retribution for how the U.S. of America destroyed and subjugated his beloved U.S.S.R., I am reminded of how I felt, or better yet, how my fuzzy, nightmarish memories leave me feeling from the surreal and tumultuous times in the U.S. of America during the late-Sixties through the mid-Seventies, you know, the era of national madness beginning with the Tet Offensive through the Watergate break-ins and subsequent hearings to Nixon’s humiliating yet palliative resignation and ending with America’s humiliating yet palliative retreat from South Vietnam.

Continue reading “It’s Deja Vu All Over Again: TREE OF SMOKE by Denis Johnson, a Review (of sorts)”

Advertisements

A First-Rate Fish Tale of a Thriller: USA, Inc. – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | THRILLER
USA, Inc. (A Mike Wardman Novel: Book 1)
by Larry Kahaner

RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
 

When acclaimed and prolific author, investigative journalist, and private investigator Larry Kahaner reached out to me to see if I would be interested in receiving a copy of his latest thriller, USA, Inc. (A Mike Wardman Novel: Book 1), I was at first skeptical, for the last two books that I read that were pitched to me as “thrillers” – one which I reviewed here and, the other, because I won’t review here any book that I cannot honestly give at least a Three-Star rating, I wouldn’t review – turned out to be less like thrillers and more like romance novels.

However, I was intrigued by Larry’s proposal after checking out his impressive bio; and then, after reading the book’s synopsis and preview, I was hooked, completely, and quickly wrote back to him to accept his kind offer.

And I’m truly grateful that I did because I found in Larry’s book a Five-Star Story that is fresh, fast, topical, and, yes, quite thrilling to read.

Literary fiction is my natural space for my literary endeavors; mostly, because I find they instruct me about life in ways foreign or less apparent to my way of living and thinking, often while set in surreal, nightmarish environments completely alien to my own. And the literature I like best (Kafka) instructs without the pedantry (Dickens) and overbearing, lifelike details (Balzac) that I look to literature to escape from in the first place…and which I too often find in genre fiction.
Continue reading “A First-Rate Fish Tale of a Thriller: USA, Inc. – A Review”

Games of Thrones + Peaky Blinders / Harry Potter = In the Heart of the Sea

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA
FILM | MOVIE | STUDIO | DRAMA
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

At least that seems to be the math formula used to come up with the cast list. I suppose, though, to get the full sum of major characters, we would have to carry the new James Bond movies and take the square root of The Avengers.


 
I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. I was prepared, based upon its flopping like a whale of a fish at the box office, for it to be a complete dud. However, except for some lame CGI scenes, I found it to be quite… “the bomb*.”

I especially enjoyed how the tale of a whaling ship being brought to doom by a vindictive whale – the inspiration for Moby Dick, of course – was unwillingly told by the old drunkard of a whaler Tom Nickerson (Mad Eye Moody) to Herman Melville (Q).

Some other notable cast member characters are:

Thor – Owen Chase
Vampire hunter, Abraham Lincoln – George Pollard
Thomas Shelby – Matthew Joy
Authur Shelby – Caleb Chappel
Catelyn Stark – Mrs. Nickerson
Benjen Stark – Benjamin Lawrence
Spiderman – Young Tom Nickerson
Tom Riddle – Henry Coffin

I guess I’m going to have to give the book the movie is based on another try. I downloaded the audiobook version via my Overdrive app a while ago, but it kept putting me to sleep. But, in the book’s defense, most audiobooks do that to me so it’s best not to judge it solely by its lullaby effect upon me.


BOOK


ON DEMAND/DVD

*In this instance, “the bomb” is used in the spirit of the contemporary vernacular of the youth to mean something good, as opposed to “a bomb,” which, of course and as oddly as it may seem, means something bad… like a dud.

~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unwatchable
★ ★ = Poor Movie
★ ★ ★ = Average Movie
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Movie
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Movie

 
 

I was going to review Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST, but…

…I am knee deep (I’m pretty tall dude so that’s pretty darn deep) into so much stuff* — stuff being formatting my two latest books HOW NOT TO DIE and SHORT VERSES & OTHER CURSES into print editions; setting up the logistics for the film adaptation of my short story “Leave” (fundraiser announcement soon – that’s right, I’m looking at you); adapting my novel THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR into a screenplay (so that I’ll have it to shop around when I go out to LA to work on “Leave”); and of course the latest WIP — that I’v given up on it.

If it matters, I do feel quite guilty about it…

In fact, I feel quite guilty about not publishing much at all around here lately.

Publish or perish, an all that…

But, as a consolation for my quitting on this review, I recently read this interesting read from the Paris Review, which kind of (but far from exactly) reflects my thoughts on my relationship with Hemingway, and I offer it as a very nice, if not nicer, substitute.

In addition to discussing things such as my relationship with the Big Papa, I also had good intention (and we all know what the path to hell is paved with) to compare and contrast Hemingway’s view of Fitzgerald and Paris in the Twenties as found in his memoir with the beat up protagonist in Fitzgerald’s short story (perhaps a view similar to one he had of himself) “Babylon Revisited” (one of the best short stories ever put to paper).

I probably would have giddily gushed a bit about Woody’s “Midnight In Paris,” too…

However, because of all the stuff presented above and the nice PR essay, I lost my head of steam for it all and this is as far as I got/am getting with it…


The Romance versus the Reality of Hemingway’s Paris of the “Lost Generation”

BOOK | NON-FICTION | MEMOIR
A MOVEABLE FEAST
by Ernest Hemingway

RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

Ernest Hemingway
If you want to see what I think Hemingway and other authors would like as clowns, click here.

 

The memoir >>

The short story >>

~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unreadable
★ ★ = Poor Read
★ ★ ★ = Average Read
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Read

That’s it. That’s alls I gots…

Pretty lame, I know; but what can say other than that the offer I presented in my “Hey Reader, What’s Your Angle?” post still stands. I’m still looking for good reviews to read, and perhaps reblog, that illustrate your reading and critiquing strategy… a bonus now for me would be ones that discuss Hemingway and/or Fitzgerald.

Can a brother get a link or two to a review, or what?


 

*Isn’t it funny how I’m always whining about how much I have to do, yet I somehow still found the time to promote inform you about all the stuff I have to do? Weird.

 
 

THE REVENANT: It’s Really Good (for a laugh)

THE REVENANT
FILM | MOVIE | STUDIO | DRAMA
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

Since I didn’t know off the top of my head what the word “revenant” meant, I had thought, in the spirit of Shakespeare, it was a word created specifically for Art’s sake by combining the words revenge and covenant. Seeing the movie (and the squiggly red idiot line under the word when I type it) only reinforced this belief, because “The Revenant” is a grand, intense, soul-searching, cinematographic dream-scape of movie “inspired” by a book of the same name that was “inspired” by a legend which was more than likely “inspired” by a kernel of truth of the life of a mountain man named Hugh Glass, a contemporary of Grizzly Adams, may he rest in peace (both the real one who died long ago and, more importantly to those of my generation, to Dan Haggerty, the actor who portrayed him and who died recently) and Jedediah Smith (no, Robert Redford played Jeremiah Johnson, not Smith), which is about a father committed to his last breath regardless the odds or obstacles to exact revenge for the murder of his son.
 


 

In simplistic terms, it’s really, really good. It deserves all the Oscars nominations it has received, especially for Best Picture, Best Director (Iñárritu), Best Supporting Actor (Hardy), and Best Actor (DiCaprio).

As is typical with any film he is in, Tom Hardy stole the show. In my view, he just may be the best working actor there is right now. He out-acted DiCaprio, who is a pretty good actor in his own right – not great, but pretty good. But it doesn’t really matter as far as awards go seeing that they are up for different ones. But even if they were up for Best Actor, DiCaprio should still win it over Hardy, and all the others I’ve seen, for the overwhelming effort he invested and physical hardship and pain he endured for this role. His performance and commitment to his trade are remarkable.

As far as the logistics and filming of the movie, I do not know how Iñárritu did it. The movie is so big and so remote with so many moving parts – Mother Nature notwithstanding – I simply don’t know how they put it all together so seamlessly and beautifully, and breathtakingly so. I’m sure it will win for Best Cinematography.

I already said the movie is about a father’s commitment to exacting revenge for his son’s murder. And it is. But, unfortunately for Glass, the father, he has to fulfill this sad covenant that he makes with himself, his dead son, and his impartial god, after having just about the worst day, week, and however long his revenge exacting takes that one man can ever have.

I mean, this dude just gets keep getting creamed.

I mean, there are bears and “savages” and broken bones and infection and starvation and the frigid, merciless elements…

It’s like… Dude!

I mean, Death just keeps so relentlessly and rabidly on his ass that it finally became comical to me… and the guy sitting next to me.

Remember the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail?” Each time another near-death tragedy happened to Glass and his near-death tragic soul, I couldn’t help repeating in my mind that famous and funny line from the movie:

It’s just a flesh wound.

I whispered this to the guy next to me and we ended up giggling like two kids each successive time Death pick Glass up and pile-drived his head back into the mat.

Which brings me back to the word “revenant” and its meaning. Come to find out it isn’t a made-up word after all. It means, “a person who has returned, especially from the dead.”

There couldn’t be a more fitting word for this movie. In fact, it could be called The Revenant To The Nth Power, Glass returns from the dead so many times.

There are more things about the movie I could make fun with… like pointing out a cliché or two – yes, of course Glass gets all Luke Skywalker on us when he guts his horse (that had recently just fallen over a cliff with him – he survives; the horse doesn’t) and crawls inside it to stay warm during the night – but I’ll stop with the merrymaking.

But it doesn’t matter, the movie is good enough, and grand enough, that it can handle a bit of criticism from yours truly.

Out of all the movies nominated for Best Picture, I’ve only seen this, “Mad Max,” and “The Martian.” Out of those three, all of which I like very much, “The Revenant” is my pick to win.

If you haven’t seen it, you should.
 


Based upon the novel by Michael Punke

 
~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unwatchable
★ ★ = Poor Movie
★ ★ ★ = Average Movie
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Movie
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Movie

 
 

A Review of Short Verses & Other Curses by Paul Xylinides of theliteraryreader

I am very proud and honored to have received such a warm review from the great Paul Xylinides of the theliteraryreader (theliteraryreader.com).

As you may be aware, Paul’s work is not unfamiliar to this site, as his THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA is reviewed here and is my favorite Indie Author read to date.

I strongly encourage you – it’s for your own good, believe me – to visit with Paul at both his literary review site and at his author site paulxylinides.com to check out the intellectually intriguing work he does. Make sure you follow his sites so you don’t miss out in the future.

To read my review of THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA, click here.

To read more of Paul’s writing found on this site, enter “paul xylinides” in the search box.

theliteraryreader

Short Verses

Review

of

Kurt Brindley’s

Short Verses & Other Curses
(Haiku, Senryū, & Other Poetic, Artistic, & Photographic Miscellany)

by

Paul Xylinides

paul_picture_03

A Warrior Poet’s Hard-Won Epiphanies

Self-made and/or naturally insight-endowed, Kurt Brindley has the soul of a poet; further, he has the soul of a warrior poet. He makes passing reference to the martial tradition that has also been a part of his life in the poem “If I Were A Samurai:”


I would know

when to bow
and when to ignore
when to speak
and when to be silent

when to eat
and when to fast
when to think
and when to meditate
when to advance
and when to hold
when to strike
and when to parry
when to kill
and when to die

All writers — the serious and the not-so-much — inevitably find themselves in a battle, as often as not Biblical in proportions, for the human…

View original post 545 more words

One of these Fine Looking Books will be our selection for the IABS&R Volume IV…

I was going to post this on Saturday, seeing that August 8 was the last day for submissions to this volume of the Indie Author Book Selection & Review, but when I went to check my post office box – something I do only infrequently or when one of you kind folk email me to tell me that your book is happily on its way to me – and what to my wondering eyes did appear on the door to the office but a sign advising that the joint closes at 11:00 am on Saturdays. It was 12:30 pm. Unfulfilled me…

And so I went and checked again yesterday and found my box chock full of, not books, but junk mail.

My intention was to then come home to write this post; however, I got bullied over by all the nastiness in the news and ended up writing what I wrote… That gun thing.

So here we are. And below, I present to you four very fine looking books written by three assuredly fine writing authors. For the next couple weeks or so I will peruse them, mull over them, perhaps sacrifice a pencil or two to the Writing Gods, and then eventually come to a decision as to which book will be selected to receive the Full Monty review treatment as advertised and promised by me (read over various IABS&R pages to get an idea of just what a Full Monty review treatment may possibly entail).

So, in the interim, how about you also check out the four submissions by clicking through their respective book reveals, the guest posts by their respective authors, and maybe even purchasing one or all of them.

And if you do happen to purchase one or all of them, it would be pure awesomeness if you were to also write a smoking hot review of those that you read and post it on your site and on Amazon and on Goodreads and on any other place you can think of that will hark a clarion call to all readers of the world what you, yourself, have witnessed.

Can you dig?

Because that’s what this is all about…

Supporting and perhaps even celebrating Indie Authors.

Right on?

So here they are as advertised and promised by moi:

A NEW HUMAN & A MULTI DIMENSIONAL PARADIGM by Avril Meyler: An IABS&R Volume IV Book Reveal

This reveal comes from the second package of books I received the other day from my significant haul at the PO Box. The first package of which I revealed here. Subsequent to this haul I received another package from author K.D. Rose, so I will be revealing her book sometime next week. In the interim, you can check out what she’s got going on by visiting her website at authorkdrose.wordpress.com.


 

Meyler-package
Brindley, Bradley…it’s all good. :) Throughout my life I’ve been called many things. The G-Rated names being those such as Bradley, Bremley, Brentley, Brinely, and of course Brinkley. Like the old saw goes: I don’t care what you call me as long as it not late for supper. But in case you were wondering, Brindley originates from a son of a noble family that William the Conqueror brought over to England from Normandy. When the son was married he was given some land that was known locally as the “Burned Leigh,” which, in an effort to be accepted by some of history’s very first French-despising Brits, he took on as his own family name, or something like that. So, essentially I’m a Viking by way of England via France. Long live Rollo!

Anyway… Enough about me.

Meyler-books-front
The first thing I noticed about these books are their beautiful blues and purples that brings with them a universal, spiritual vibe. Which is appropriate, because although these books are rather diminutive in size – A Multidimensional Paradigm clocks in at a svelte 70 pages; and A New Human a bit huskier at 157 pages – they both promise some pretty heavy content.

Avril Meyler Books

A selection from the back cover of A New Human:

A New Human describes the soul’s journey through the awakening of her spirit in human embodiment. This experience sees her perception of life on Planet Earth undergo a major evaluation as she makes a bridge between her human self and her soul…

A selection from the back cover of A Multidimensional Paradigm:

Many people are undergoing a huge transformation as they begin to awaken and understand how Orwellian our world is becoming. In the past 30 years the Author has been shown past, present and future; possible futures, impossible presents made possible by mankind’s paralysis in the face of a fast changing world…

Does that rock or what? And I’m talking here a very heavy rock to accommodate the very heavy content of the books…

Anyway, she had me at “Orwellian.”
 


Author Avril Meyler website
Visit with Author Avril Meyler at her website: multidimensionalreality.wordpress.com

 

Meyler-books-flat

Meyler-books-spine

I know you’re completely intrigued by what’s been revealed to you today so you will be happy to know that tomorrow we’ll have a guest post from the author. Right on?

Write on, my friends…


 

The deeper we go the brighter the light
~ Author Avril Meyler

Author Avril Meyler is a qualified Aroma therapist, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who devotes her time to travel, volunteering and writing. You can learn more about her and her work at her website:

multidimensionalreality.wordpress.com

 
 

DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS by G.N. Boorse: An IABS&R Volume IV Book Reveal

IABS&R VOLUME IV BOOK REVEAL
Quite the haul from just one visit to my PO Box, wouldn’t you say? Makes me feel like a kid at Christmas…

Well, we kind of kicked off the IABS&R Volume IV with this, so what do you say we go ahead and get this party started?

We’ll start off by revealing DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS by author G.N. Boorse in this post, and then we’ll reveal the other books in the haul at a later date. I will say now, however, that the other books are by author Avril Meyler and you can get a head start as to what to expect from her by checking her site out at multidimensionalreality.wordpress.com.

DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS package
I was going to publish this book reveal earlier this morning and then publish a guest post by the author later this evening. However, the sons and I decided to make a quick day trip to New York City (jealous, ain’t ya) so I am publishing this from the road and I will publish the guest post tomorrow some time, Inshallah.

DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS front cover
Here is a front view of the novel DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS by author G.N. Boorse. It is a very eye appealing, professional-looking cover that is, quite honestly, compelling me to read it.


Author G.N. Boorse Website
Visit with Author G.N. Boorse at his website
asotherswere.me

Boorse-book-flat

Boorse-book-spine

DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS by Author G.N. Boorse by cover
From the back cover of DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS:

A record-breaking mudslide traps seventeen people behind the glass front of a superstore. Food and supplies abound, but they yearn for freedom, debating the risks of smashing the windows and breaking free. The days grind on, and Audrey Frost’s nightmares won’t seem to leave…

Does DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS look rockin’ or what? Yes, indeed it does. The fun and excitement continues so stay tuned for tomorrow’s guest post by Author G.N. Boorse…

And remember, we’ll leave submissions open for this volume for about a month or so, so if you want your book considered while also receiving a reveal treatment such as this, let me know soonest.

Right on?

Write on!
 

Available at Amazon

 

Author G. N. Boorse

asotherswere.me

 
 

A World At War Just Like It Was Yesterday: HAWSER – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

To one who considers some of his favorite literary works to be those about World War II – SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE and CATCH 22 being the obvious ones – the war seems to be very present for me, when in fact it is now eighty years in our past. With it now so far removed from us, and with the space filled in by so many countless other wars, it really is quite an accomplishment that author J Hardy Carroll was able to bring the period back to us in such a vivid and entertaining way.

HAWSER, our selection for Volume 3 of the Indie Author Book Selection & Review (IABS&R), is a finely weaved, fascinating tale of Hawser (don’t bother asking him his real name) as he recounts his time as a B-17 bombardier during the Allies’s bombing campaign against the Germans.

We meet Hawser in a prisoner of war camp and it is from there he recounts for us all that has happened to him in the war before that point. We learn how he washed out as a pilot to become a bombardier, how he had to abandon his unit because of a murder, how he was abandoned as a child, how he met his arch nemesis, how he became trained in subversive warfare, how he became an expert bombardier, how he became burnt out and disillusioned by the war, and finally, how he tragically became a Nazi prisoner. From there we pick things back up from the present time in the story and we go along with him until the book’s conclusion.

Within that very rough sketch that I just laid out of the novel, there are so many – too many some may argue – different plot twists and sub plots filled with suspense and murder and love and passion and discovery and deceit along the way that several times throughout the course of my reading the book I had to stop to marvel at Carroll’s ability to manage it all so seamlessly and with such intrigue, all the while bringing out some of the larger and more poignant lessons learned from the war: mainly of the incalculable death and psychological and material devastation that the war wrought across the entire globe, as well as teaching us – or reminding us – that war isn’t always honorable and that not all people go to war to be heroes…some go to war simply because they want to kill.

And I was equally impressed with all the military and war jargon with which Carroll was able to flavor the story. It it his description of the B-17s and all their guns and ammunition and flight formations, and his knowledge of England during the war and its pastoral settings and its pubs and its quirky dialects that truly bring the story to life. Now I don’t know how much research Carroll had to do – my guess is a lot – and I don’t know how much of the detail he writes in the story is accurate – my guess is all of it – but I don’t really care. I don’t care because it all seems so real and so accurate that it significantly enhanced the story’s ability to pull me into that zen-like space of blissful verisimilitude.

In the end, the only flaws to be found with the book are in its ambition and achievement. At times the sub plots pull back the tempo of the story and I never really felt that there was that one thing, that one element of the story that had enough heft to bring an immediacy, an urgency of discovery, from the beginning to the end of the tale. But I see that more as a good problem for an Indie Author to have, as it is always better to have too much material to work with than not enough.

So I say congratulations and thank you to J Hardy Carroll for writing such a powerful story that both entertains and reminds us just how much effort and expense throughout history we silly humans have invested in our seemingly never ending quest to kill and conquer each other.


Hawser

jhardycarroll.com

 

~~~~

RATING SYSTEM:
★ = UNREADABLE
★ ★ = POOR READ
★ ★ ★ = AVERAGE READ
★ ★ ★ ★ = OUTSTANDING READ
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = EXCEPTIONAL READ

 
 

Let the Games Begin! The IABS&R Volume 3 Games, that is…

A while back, I made notice that we were going to manage IABS&R Volume 3 a little bit differently than we had the previous two. Seeing how I am knee deep into my Emerson Commitment, and I am slowly, very slowly, putting together a collection of my short stories and flash fiction, I thought it best not to commit to a moderation of submissions and all the this and that it entails and just invite authors to send me print editions of their work directly…

And lo and behold, someone did send me a book directly. How about that…

I am very pleased and privileged to introduce to you the novel HAWSER, a, what looks to be very compelling, work of intrigue and adventure from an author with a name that I happen to think is a very cool and catchy authorial-type-name and one to be reckoned with – J Hardy Carroll.

Now, as I am chock-full of things to do in the present and beyond, it will be some time before I make the determination as to whether to actually read and review the book. In the interim, I will post it on my sidebar for you all to view and consider in a blatant effort of mine to coax and convince you into purchasing it so that you yourself may do the most honorable thing a reader can do for an Indie Author, which of course is to review it!. And during this lag of time between now and when I make my IABS&R Volume 3 determination, as opposed to “selection” since I have but one book to choose from, I invite you to send – as in mail – as in postal service mail (see Contact page for address) – me a polished and ready for prime time print edition version of your book, which may include just about any genre except Erotica and Romance. At which time, once received, I can then properly reclassify this IABS&R volume properly as a “selection” vice “determination.”

You dig?

So, without further ado and nonsense from me, I present to you J Hardy Carroll’s novel, HAWSER.

HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
A little package of a self-contained world of alternate reality delivered straight to my PO Box doorstep courtesy the author and via CreateSpace and the United States Postal Service…

 

HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
Despite this poorly presented picture of mine, this is a very eye-catching cover and one that conveys the intense vibe that one would expect a cover for a story about a world war to convey

 

HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
The back cover is also sharp and blurb-appropriate

 

HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
I really like the name of the publishing imprint – GRAPNEL BOOKS, with its logo picture of a grappling hook…awesomeness

 

HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
Weighing in at 337 pages, all of which promise intrigue and adventure

 

Please visit and follow J Hardy Carroll at
hawesescapes.com

 
 

Paul Xylinides, a literary fiction author in the classical sense for our less than literary contemporary times – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA
by Paul Xylinides
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

I could have spent the time writing this review of Indie Author Paul Xylinides’s novel The Wild Horses of Hiroshima comparing and contrasting it with other similar works of literary fiction, or I could have attempted to apply the story’s highly powerful, poignant theme against the larger social and political woes of our time, but I am not going to do any of that, at least not as fully as I would had this been a typical review of mine. I’m not going to because if I had it would have meant that too much focus would have been on my knowledge of other such similar books or other such woeful contemporary issues rather than focusing on why Xylinides is so important to the Indie Author movement, as I believe he just may be the author who proves in a most definitive way that literary fiction of the highest sort does not have to be blessed and published exclusively by the traditional literary gatekeepers of days gone by.

My Kindle account is cluttered to near capacity with books I have downloaded from my partake of the many, many Indie Author giveaway promotions that are always going on. Unfortunately, I am sorry to have to say, I am unable to finish most of these books that I attempt to read. The reasons are many but it all boils down mostly to the books being either poorly edited or without a compelling story. There is so much Indie Author detritus out there, perhaps even including the work of yours truly, that it can become disheartening to even the most fervid believers of the Indie Author movement. But I am one of those fervid believers, and it is because of this belief that I host the Indie Author Book Selection & Review. The IABS&R is my means to help me find the best that the movement has to offer and a medium for which to share these finds with as many readers as possible.

I am very happy to have found Xylindes’s work and even happier share my high regard of it with all of you.

When I read a book with the intent to review, I always read with pen and notebook at hand, for one way I make judgement of the work is by highlighting the good and bad of it — the good with the marks of stars and exclamation points and the bad with the marks of strike throughs and question marks. Regardless the book I read, whether it’s published independently or traditionally, it always receive markups of both kinds, with the indie published books typically having way more of the bad kind than the good.

However, Xylinides’s book had so many stars cluttering the margins that it became a pointless endeavor. His ability to craft a sentence is magical. And they are some of the best I have ever read. The way he describes the scenery below and the mental reflections of the pilot as he observes it from above, just moments before he drops upon it the bomb that forever changes our view of warfare and of ourselves, is both heartrendingly tragic and breathtakingly beautiful all at once. And then his description of the impact of the explosion and the death and damage it causes moved me such that I had to put the book down for a while in order to collect myself. Those are just two examples of such fine craftsmanship found all throughout the book. This highly evocative read at times channeled in me the feelings I had of when first reading something along the lines of a Flaubert or a Balzac.

You may be reading this zealous, perhaps even overzealous, promotion of Xylinides’s book and wondering to yourself, if it is as good as Brindley says it is, then why only four stars? Why not five?

Good question. As good as the book is, it is not perfect. Most books aren’t. In fact, if I remember correctly, there is only one five-star review that I’ve written. And where Xylinides’s book succeeds, it is also where it, while not failing, at least causes enough disturbance in my appreciation of it to knock it down a star.

What I appreciate most from a good read is not its crafty sentences but its ability to take me away from reality for long periods of time. What is most critical for me when reading is attaining that Zen-like place of verisimilitude. The longer a book is able to hold me within that heavenly zone of literary satori, the more overcome by and appreciative of it I will be when finished. The truth is, Xylinides’s writing was so impressive and so often so that it literally pulled me from the story because of it. And after a while, it almost felt like a distraction, as I would have to then work to get back to that inner space where the magic truly happens. Another distraction, and I almost hesitate to mention it because, compared to all the other attributes the book possesses, it may sound petty, but the lack of commas ended up being a pretty big deal to me. I believe that if there is a natural pause in the momentum of a sentence, then that is where a comma belongs. A comma’s job is to signal and allow the reader to take that natural break that the sentence is calling for. Unfortunately, Xylinides does not follow this comma convention of mine and it left many of his sentences without guideposts that are essential for fluid reading and deep comprehension. Now, I do not believe Xylinides does not understand this; I believe he does but chooses not to follow convention, perhaps as an artistic statement of some sort. His is a challenging subject that he took on as a matter of literary courage and conviction. I suspect it was not an easy challenge for him to overcome. Why then should we, the reader, have it any easier? His success in overcoming such a challenge must be ours as well. As, that for which we work hardest for is that for which we appreciate most. Still, a distraction is a distraction, regardless how artistic and stylistic it may be.

While these distractions are significant to me, they are not nearly weighty and serious enough for me to lose my faith in Xylindes’s ability pick up the guidon of our movement and hold it high as he leads us in our charge toward Publishing Independence and Literary Respect.

The Wild Horses of Hiroshima certainly ranks as some of the finest writing of the Indie Author movement; additionally, I feel very comfortable saying that it just may rank as some of the finest contemporary literary fiction being written, regardless the publisher, or lack thereof. But my opinion of the book is just one, which is why I strongly encourage all of you who are also believers and supporters of the movement to purchase this book and, if you feel as strongly about it as I do, to review it and continue to spread the word that it is truly a work to be reckoned with, as it just may be the template of success that all Indie Authors, nay, all authors, wish to attain.

 

Wild Horses of Hiroshima
paulxylinides.com

 
 

The Lowdown for the Showdown…

Well, I wouldn’t actually call my review for the IABS&R Volume 2 selection a showdown, but lowdown and IABS&R just doesn’t have the same ring to it as does lowdown and showdown…

Can you dig?

However, since I’m still a long way off from finishing the selection, which, by way of reminder, is The Wild Horses of Hiroshima by Paul Xylinides (see sidebar), a lot can happen by the time I finish it so…you never know. The review just may as well end up as a showdown.

But I wouldn’t bet on it. In fact, I strongly recommend you visit Paul’s site and check out some of things he’s got going on there. Quite interesting… As a way of introduction to his work, I strong recommend this.

And, however again, even though I am still a long way off from finishing the book, I am going to boldly announce that my review for it will be published next week at 8:00PM (EST) Friday, January 9, 2015.

Nothing like a hard and fast drop dead date (Don’t get alarmed…in the military, that’s how deadlines are referred to) to bring one to focus, if you know what I mean.

As far as the way forward for the IABS&R… Well, seeing how I am keen on putting together a short story collection, as well as many other projects I have lined up for the year (and as discussed in the latest Newsletter Love issue (which is further discussed below)), we’re going to do something a bit different for the IABS&R Volume 3. Seeing how so many of you email me requests for me to review your books, if you have a book – that is not an Erotica or Romance novel – that is well written and with a compelling story, mail me a copy of your print edition – ebooks will not be considered – and if I find one that compels me to read it even during all the other things I have going on, then I will declare it the selection for Volume 3. I’ll send out a formal announcement soon to detail it all a bit more, but consider this the kick off and go ahead and mail me your book, if you’re so inclined. My snail mail mailing address can be found at the Contact page.

So…that’s the lowdown on that.

Let’s see…what else is going on around here?

Oh yeah…the subscription rate to our Newsletter Love has picked up dramatically lately. Thank you very much to all of you who subscribe and willingly invest even more of yourself into this little thing we got going here. I am humbled by your support. I sent out a new edition… yesterday? …day before? sheesh, time just scoots right along so fast that I can’t even keep up with it anymore. Anyway, whenever it was doesn’t really matter because you can check it out at the Archives page if you’re interested (see sidebar). In it, along with my typical jibbering and a jabbering, and even more of my exasperated musings about time and its inexhaustible pace, you’ll find a little insight into my drawing/photo graphic design process. But the most important thing you’ll find in the issue, in my view, is a profile of OneBigPoet’s poem The Diner, which hails from the RELATING TO HUMANS Race Issues feature. It’s a pretty powerful piece, it is. I’m not sure when the next issue will be released but I already have something literary and interactive ideas in mind for it so you just might want to join our little salon-like space to see what’s what.

Okay…so that’s that. What else we got?

Oh yeah…speaking of the RELATING TO HUMANS feature, have you checked out what’s going on there lately? Wow, there are some mighty fine bodies of work up there. The place is booming. Once again, thank you all for investing some of yourself here. Like, Write On! And also a big thank you to all of you who have taken the time to check it out and offer up your feedback and a “Like” or two here and there. Most awesome. So keep on submitting your work and I’ll do my best to profile the best of it here and in the newsletter. We should be having a profile of one of the submissions on the blog soon, as well as a guest post by the artist involved. I’m pretty excited about it to tell you the truth… Well, everything I’ve said so far in this post has been the truth…honest.

So much cool stuff going on here…and so much more to come. Once again, thank you for your amazing support. And for the last time this year – Happy New Year! – 2015 is going to be fantastically fabulous! And that truly is the truth!

And that, my friends, is a wrap to this lowdown of a showdown.

Wait a minute…

Is it lowdown or down low?

I always get those two confused…

Wink, wink

 
 

The IABS&R Volume 2 Selection Is…

THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA

by Paul Xylinides

Wild Horses of Hiroshima

Before I talk about why I selected Paul’s book, I first want to say thank you to all three authors who submitted their books for this round of the IABS&R. And, truly, each of the books, with their tight, eye-catching book covers and their interesting descriptions, could have easily been my selection. And while I will be reviewing Paul’s book for this round, I can surely see myself picking up copies of the other two books and reviewing them at a later date.
Continue reading “The IABS&R Volume 2 Selection Is…”

Hands of Evil, Just Another Evil Sign of the Times – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | THRILLER
HANDS OF EVIL
by Melissa Barker-Simpson
RATING: ★ ★ ★

Hands of Evil by Ms Melissa Barker-SimpsonIt seems that in this supposed enlightened day and age in which we live that there wouldn’t be, at least there certainly shouldn’t be, so much preventable human tragedy happening as frequently as it does. On any given day at any given time you can turn on or click to any given news outlet and find tragedy in the form of human disregard toward other humans, a disregard which so frequently takes the form of hate and abuse and murder. It’s just so sad. In the States we are going through a horrible and tragic convulsion of unarmed black boys and men being gunned downed by our well-armed and very powerful and legally well-protected protectors of the state. Right alongside that, we’ve been having a steady stream of high-profile reporting of an equally egregious and tragic crime; a crime most often committed inexplicably by a husband or a boyfriend or a date; a crime seemingly endemic to society and without a cure in sight; a crime of abuse and sexual assault toward women.

And it this challenging and heartbreaking topic of abuse and sexual assault toward women that author Melissa Barker-Simpson takes on with her novel, Hands of Evil.

Overall, this story was a mostly enjoyable read, especially in the context of how it brings to light strong women who have gained and earned their strength through their own tragic travails and survival of abuse. Grace, whom I regard as the story’s protagonist (though it seems Barker-Simpson touts JJ, a stoic and manly former military special forces operator and now civilian close protection officer as the lead, as indicated by both her submission for this exercise, as well as her synopsis on the book’s back cover), sets a fine example of a strong female character, which is definitely needed in times such as now.

However, as far as being a thriller, it simply isn’t. I list it as a thriller only because that is how it was pitched to me and that is how it appears to be as written in the book’s back cover synopsis. However, other than at the beginning and the ending, and a brief moment or two spattered throughout, there isn’t much mystery or suspense, let alone thrills. The killer, for whose crimes the story is named, is not developed and his role in the story comes to a predictable conclusion long before the book ends. To me, the killer seems more to be an afterthought. The real bad guy of the story, and a character the author did a good job of developing, is Grace’s former husband. It is he who adds what little suspense and mystery there is to the story.

What this story really is is a romance novel. And, while I’m no romance novel expert, Barker-Simpson does a very good job at illustrating all the contortions and misgivings and joy and sadness that human relationships of love and hate and envy and sex entail. JJ, who has his own scars as a result of abuse, abuse inflicted not to him but to someone he loves, and Grace, who is in the middle of her own recovery from abuse, are drawn together by the actions of the killer (apparently his primary and what seems to be sole purpose in the story) and must find a way to overcome all the challenges before them for their relationship to have a chance. Now, as someone who came into the story expecting a thriller, one romance (which included not one but two sex scenes for those of you who like reading those) would have been more than enough; however, we also are given the lesser developed relationship pangs and pains of two secondary characters.

As it is, I suppose a major take-away from this review is: if you’re looking for a thriller this isn’t it; if you’re looking for a romance novel, it just may be it. And even though the story is not what I expected or hoped it to be, it succeeds most in what it needs to be, and that is as an example of a contemporary female author writing about and paying tribute to strong, contemporary women by showing them surviving and thriving in an environment often hostile and dangerous toward their very existence. An environment that is very real and very present to far too many women throughout this often petulant and perplexing planet of ours. And that example set by Melissa Barker-Simpson and her character Grace, without a doubt, is what needs to be taken away mostly from this review.

Summing Up Maugham's OF HUMAN BONDAGE

BOOK | FICTION | LITERATURE
OF HUMAN BONDAGE
by W. Somerset Maugham

RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

W. Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham

I suppose the easiest, and quickest, way to sum up Maugham’s OF HUMAN BONDAGE would be to write something along the lines of “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” which is certainly the case for the story’s protagonist, Phillip Carey.

If, however, that was all I wrote, then not only would I be overly brief in this review (which probably is not a bad thing), I would also be overly unoriginal since we all know the above quote belongs to the great Henry David Thoreau.

Unfortunately, because I do not have Thoreau’s genius for writing simply (which requires skill and patience that most writers, to include me, do not possess), I will have to deploy many more words than just Thoreau’s for my own summing up of Maugham’s masterpiece.

But what Thoreau wrote so poetically is undeniably what the essence of Maugham’s story is about:

 

Carey, born with a clubbed foot and who grows up to be shy and insecure because of it, lives a life yearning to be someone he can never be, to love someone whom he can never love, and to be somewhere other than where he happens to be.

His yearnings, we find, go mostly unfulfilled.

What I enjoy most about the story is Maugham’s descriptive ability. His writing magically places me deep within the England and the Germany and the France of the early twentieth century. I can hear the cart wheels rolling along the cobble-stoned streets. I can see the crowded, smoke-filled cafe. I can taste the absinthe and feel the immediate allure and rush as it blissfully numbs away the bite of reality.

What I enjoy least about the story is Carey’s excessively drawn-out infatuation with Mildred Rogers, the cruel and insensitive simpleton who fancies herself to be of a station in life much higher than the one she is unable to escape, no matter how hard she tries. While she does not have the capacity to improve her lot in life through earnest devices and effort, she does have enough smarts about her to understand early on in her relationship with Carey that she has a power over him from which he is also unable to escape no matter how hard he tries. She uses and abuses Carey with her power so often and for so long that I found myself becoming impatient and bored with, not only Carey’s unbelievable weakness, but with the story as a whole. However, by that point, I was already deeply hooked, addicted to the tale and desperate to know whether Carey would find a way to ween himself from his deadly addiction to Rogers, or if he would die unfulfilled and, as Oliver Wendell Holmes writes in his poem “The Voiceless,” with his music still in him.

While I find the tortuous, one-sided love affair between Carey and Rogers to be a bit too much, through it I am reminded that any unhealthy dependency, be it our dependency on love, on money, on drugs, or on whatever, often takes us down a long and troubling path that, if we stay on it, will eventually lead us to the point of our destruction. And it usually is not until we nearly reach that point that we are finally able to realize just how destructive our dependency, our yearning, really is. Only then, if we are lucky or blessed or both (for unfortunately, many are unable to stop before reaching the point of their destruction and continue helplessly, fatally on), can we find the strength to separate ourselves from that which is destroying us and begin on a path to recovery.

But I guess that’s how life goes, and how it has always gone throughout the desperate ages — if we do not somehow find a way to come to peace with our satiated yearnings, our unrequited desires, they will most likely be the sad and desperate songs we sing until we finally, and at last, are placed within our cold and lonely graves.

~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unreadable
★ ★ = Poor Read
★ ★ ★ = Average Read
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Read

So here’s the plan, Stan*…

The Indie Author Book Selection & Review plan, that is.

1. My review of HANDS OF EVIL by Melissa Barker-Simpson, the IABS&R Volume 1 selection, will be published at 8:00PM** Friday, December 5, 2014.

2. Submissions for IABS&R Volume 2 will close upon publication of the HANDS OF EVIL review.

3. IABS&R Volume 2 selection will be published at 8:00PM** Monday, December 8, 2014.

4. I will loudly and proudly sing Hark the Heralds Angels Sing and Joy to the World (no, no…the Christmas song, not the Three Dog Night song!) immediately thereafter in celebration of my selection.

Which reminds me, because I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting this announcement:

The playing and singing of Christmas Music is now authorized and strongly condoned in all participating households both near and far henceforth and hereafter until 11:59PM**, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, upon which all Christmas Music playing and singing will cease until hereby authorized once again by me.

That is all.

Oh wait…if you have a book you would like to be read and reviewed here, at Amazon, and at Goodreads, I’m your man***. So get your submission in pronto.

That is all.

Dang it! I forgot to mention that I strongly urge everyone to please visit the IABS&R Volume 2 submissions that we already have and vote for your favorite(s) with a “Like.”

That is all.

Ah…S#!+!! One more thing… And don’t forget about the Relating to Humans feature. Submissions are always open for that. Please please please consider sharing some of your awesomeness with us.

Okay…

For real now…

That is all.

No, seriously…

 

*non-gender specific

**Eastern Standard Time (you know, New York City time)

***gender specific

He Ain't No Oe But That Ain't So Bad

BOOK | FICTION | LITERATURE
THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE
by Haruki Murakami

RATING: ★ ★ ★

Original review date: May 17, 2011

Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami

Nobel Prize winning author Kenzaburo Oe is one of the few contemporary Japanese authors whose writing does what I believe Japanese literature — strike that — whose writing does what I believe all literature should do: that is, it should expose our fears and force us to confront them. Like a shamanistic bloodletting, literature should mercifully, but without mercy, cut deep into our consciousness in an effort to reveal and release, exorcise, the things in life that have come to possess us—-our loves, our hates, our envies, our disdains; and afterwards, when the demons are either gone or have regained control, after the blood stops flowing and the wound hardens into a gnawing, itchy scab, it, literature, then forever stays with us and occasionally reminds us of that which we have, if not overcome, then at least managed to suffer through, as the thickened scar forever reminds the wary survivor.

Yes, I expect much from literature.

Oe’s writing affects me as literature should. Though it has been many years since I have read his novels The Silent Cry and A Personal Matter, they both are still with me, haunting me.

While I have read far too few Japanese authors, it is impossible for me not to compare the writing of those authors whom I have read against Oe’s, since his is such a powerful force in my literary life.

It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to compare the writing of authors of different literary genres and subgenres. How does one effectively size up an Oe novel against a Basho haiku against a Miyazawa fairy tale?

Acknowledging such difficulties, I know we still like our “best of” lists so here is a somewhat rankish list of those few Japanese authors whom I have read, ordered based on the subjective impact their writings have left on me, on how deeply they cut into my consciousness, on how thick the scar they leave behind.

Kenzaburo Oe
Yukio Mishima
Matsuo Basho
Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Soseki Natsume
Yasunari Kawabata
Kenji Miyazawa
Haruki Murakami
Banana Yoshimoto

I love poetry and I consider myself a poet, but as a reader I am drawn mostly to the novel. So it’s no surprise to me that the list consists of those authors known primarily for their novels. Most of the authors are dead, but the three who are still with us bookend the list: Oe on top and Yoshimoto and Murakami at the bottom.

Though his name is listed next to last on the list — which doesn’t necessarily mean his writing is bad (although I do believe Yoshimoto is properly placed at the bottom as she is a less than good writer, especially when compared to Oe) — when discussing contemporary Japanese novelists, the first on the list to be discussed, even before Oe, at least in terms of international popularity and readership, is Haruki Murikami.

These days, Murakami’s work dominates Japan’s literary scene, and much of the international one, as well. From what I’ve learned about his work ethic his is a completely earned and deserved domination — when working on a novel he rises at 4:00am, writes for five to six hours, runs 10 kilometers, and is in bed by 9:00 pm; he rigidly sticks to this herculean writing process and daily routine until the novel is complete.


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is my first Murakami novel. In addition to the short story Town of Cats it is the only work of his I have read.

I like THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE. I think it deserves to be as widely read as it has been. It is an intriguingly complex story with many layers, possessing much of what I like most about Japanese writing, and which, fortunately for me, is what most of what the Japanese writing that I have read is about: the sense of loneliness and despondency in the face of an ever more changing and complex world.

But it seems THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE is a bit too complex an effort with too many layers for Murakami to effectively manage.

The protagonist of the story, our non-hero, is Toru Okada, a still young but nearing middle age out of work lawyer. He is out of work by his own choosing, apparently because he has become disenchanted with his line of employment and his place in life. First he loses his cat, then his wife. During his quest for both, he finds and develops a relationship with a flirty teenager, with two sisters (one a prostitute of the mind whom he encounters in both his real and dreamed worlds, the other a prostitute of the flesh), a rich widow and her mute but spiritually communicative son, and a World War II veteran with a fantastically horrific yet achingly beautiful story to tell. To manage his downwardly spiraling and dangerously out-of-control and confusing life, Toru takes refuge within a deep well, which seems to be some sort of all consuming event horizon between his reality and his dreams.

Yeah, it’s as wild and mesmerizing and frustrating (often not in a good way) ride of a novel as it sounds.

My two biggest criticisms of Murakami’s novel are that it is too contrived and too insecure.

I know much of the story is fantastical and captured within a dream state, but it doesn’t feel natural. No matter how bizarre and far out crazy weird a story is it should still feel natural, as if that is exactly how life is meant to be. Some of my favorite novels are captured firmly within these realms; particularly Franz Kafka’s The Castle and The Trail.

We know that Murakami was greatly influenced by Kafka. So much so he entitles of one of his books Kafka on the Shore. But no matter how fantastical and surreal Kafka gets, his writing feels natural within those unnatural realms. Murakami’s does not. His feels choppy, forced, and, as I said before, contrived.

I also get impatient with Murakami’s lack of trust in us, the readers. This lack of trust may mean he is somewhat insecure in his own writing ability. He explains things too much. He leads us throughout the story with too much detail and suggestions as to the meaning behind what it is he wishes for us to learn from his words. Unlike Kafka who takes us blindfolded onto his bizarre journeys, abandones us deep within the remote wilderness of his unfinished tales, and leaves us to our own devices to find our way back to safety, Murakami has no such confidence in either us, himself, or both.

Maybe it’s overly descriptive because unconsciously he understood that the story was too ambitious and unmanageable for him to successfully convey.

Regardless what my criticisms are, THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE is an immense success. As testimony to its international appeal, an “interdisciplinary theatre production” based upon the novel premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival. Its trailer looks amazing and captures the essence and weirdness of the story.

In the end, Murakami’s THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE does not do for me what Oe’s The Silent Cry or A Personal Matter does. While it is surreal and sometimes dark and creepy in a soulful and insightful way that I mostly enjoyed, it has no staying power. If there has been any cutting from it, it has been bloodless and superficial. Ten years from now, I foresee the novel leaving no haunting or even memorable scars on my consciousness.

~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unreadable
★ ★ = Poor Read
★ ★ ★ = Average Read
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Read

In Contemplation of the Art and Act of Suicide – A Review

SHORT STORY | FICTION | LITERATURE
A NOTE by John Northcutt Young
RATING: ★ ★ ★

 

Some people should die
That’s just unconscious knowledge

– Jane’s Addiction

 

A Note by John Northcutt Young

It is hard for me to imagine anyone past the age of puberty who has not contemplated suicide. I don’t mean actually contemplating committing suicide — although less hard, it is still kind of hard for me to imagine anyone who has lived a life of even the most minimal engagement to have not had at least one life crisis serious enough to trigger contemplation of even this most extreme act — but just suicide in general. If, hypothetically speaking, one were going to commit suicide, what would be the best way to perform the act? That is what I mean by contemplating suicide. Contemplating the art of suicide, so to speak.

And, with his short story A NOTE, that is exactly what author John Northcutt Young does. He forces us to contemplate suicide, and in a most uncomfortable and burdensome manner, by taking us deep into the mind of someone preparing himself for the final act of committing suicide.

And he does this, not just by forcing us into the mind of the narrator as a casual observer, he shoves us directly into the story itself, as a participating character, by having us assume the most unpleasant role of “Whomever,” the unknown recipient to whom the narrator of the story is addressing his suicide note, a note that he is just beginning to pen when the story itself begins.

But we quickly learn that it is not going to be an easy note to write. And this is not just because of the obvious reasons. Penning one’s final farewell message must surely be difficult for even the most accomplished in life. Right now you may be thinking that that last sentence is ridiculous. If one is so accomplished in life then there would be no reason for one to even contemplate suicide, let alone actually commit it. My response to that is, the statement may be highly ironic perhaps, but ridiculous, certainly not. All we have to do is take even the most cursory of glances at recent headlines to see that yes, indeed, even the most accomplished — and I almost want say here, especially the most accomplished — find cause to put a suicidal end their living existence.

However, with this story, we find that the one penning the note is far from having led an accomplished life; in fact, as he sees it, he has led, perhaps, a life the least accomplished of all. And if it holds true that penning a suicide note would prove difficult for the most accomplished, we are about to find out just how exceedingly difficult it is for the least.

By his own account the narrator is a loser. He is unaccomplished at everything, especially his life goal, a life-long ambition to be a successful writer. Or is it an author. He is not sure which he should call himself. This indecision is typical, endemic even, of his character. We learn in the most repetitive, and somewhat distracting, way that the narrator has difficulty making even the most mundane of decisions, and those decisions that he does make, ultimately end in failure.

But his biggest failure, and even bigger regret, is that of failing as a writer. And here is where I have the biggest breakdown with the story.

The story is narrated in a near stream of consciousness voice. The narrator, finally having made the decision to end his life, is now free from having to worry about all the grammar and linguistic challenges writing entails. This freedom also seems to have impacted negatively the way his internal voice, his stream of consciousness voice, is spoken. The voice of the narrator sounds overly immature and whiny, which may be excused considering what he has put himself on the path to do, but this voice doesn’t speak true to me. I cannot imagine that anyone as close to committing suicide as our narrator is, would sound so petty and immature.

Near the end we learn that his suicide note is soggy from his tears. However, up to that point, I never felt once that the narrator had shed even the slightest tear. It was, unfortunately, one rather long, annoying whine, poor grammar and all.

But what does a critique like that mean really? My answer is, nothing.

How could I possibly know how others would speak to themselves internally, and not just for something as terrifying and dramatic as the internal processing of the final movement toward ending one’s life, but for anything, really? I can’t. The only voice I can ever know, the only voice I can ever truly critique, is the sound of my own voice. And I hope I never have to hear what it would sound like during such a heartbreaking situation as the narrator is experiencing.

My problem with the narrator’s voice and the negative impact I find that it has on the overall tone and success of the story, has to be more my problem, a problem of taste, and not the story’s.

Overall, and most importantly, the story works in achieving what is perhaps its truest and biggest mission, and that, to me is, the act of awareness. Whether we like the story or not, by its end we definitely become more aware, through Young’s insistence on forcing us into a deep, uncomfortable contemplative mind journey, of what it just may be like for one poor, desperate soul of a loser as he prepares himself for what perhaps is his final act alive.

And that, to me, is something worthy of serious and deep contemplation.

~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unreadable
★ ★ = Poor Read
★ ★ ★ = Average Read
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Read

The way forward for our little “Indie Author Book Selection & Review” flash of a grassroots response thing we got going here…

I guess there is something to be said for operating on leftover pizza highs…

First off, I believe both a sincere thank you and a hearty congratulations are in order.

We’ve had quite the response to the “Hey Author, what’s your book about?” post from a few days back.

And for that, I say, from the bottom of my heart to the tips of my inked and computer key calloused fingers, Thank you all very much.

To date, fourteen awesome Authors have submitted their books for consideration. (And there is still two days left until submissions will be closed so if you’re considering it even a little bit, times running out so let’s chop chop to it, okay Authors), sixteen votes have been cast for favorite Authors, and 108 Readers have given a thumbs up of “Like” for the overall concept of this grassroots Indie movement that we started and is taking off right before our eyes.

And for that, I congratulate you. You all are just the greatest, and, with your greatness, you are exemplifying all that is possible, in the most positive terms, in what this little experiment called the Internet has to offer.

So, what’s next?

I don’t know if you’ve been following the updates or have seen the timeline on my sidebar, but here is the way forward:

In less than an hour, at 8:00PM tonight, I will post my review of John Northcutt Young’s story A NOTE.

Which means, I will soon be in the market for a new story to read.

Tomorrow night, Friday at 11:59PM to be exact, I will close the comments section down on the original solicitation announcement.

And then on Monday at 8:00PM, I will announce my selection of the next book I will read and review.

See the right sidebar for the complete timeline.

Okay?

Great.

And then, after that, we, and by we I mean you all will have to decide if we have enough momentum to do this all again.

I sure hope so…

WRITE ON!