The Graduate by Charles Webb – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
THE GRADUATE by Charles Webb
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

When The Graduate, a book published in 1963 by recently deceased author Charles Webb, popped up as a Kindle Unlimited recommendation the other day, I thought to myself, why not? I mean, shouldn’t every fan of the movie version, a film which “is often ranked among the greatest, most quoted and talked about of all time,” feel obligated to read the source from which the film’s greatness was spawned?

The answer, of course, is yes.

So I read the book obligingly – it’s a fast read as the book weighs in at a slim 224 pages – and upon reflection, I didn’t realize it from the movie version, but The Graduate is essentially a continuation of The Catcher in the Rye. In other words, we essentially witness Holden Caulfield’s post-collegiate angst as channeled through Benjamin Braddock.

In the movie version Dustin Hoffman’s Braddock, as excellent and memorable as it is, comes across to me as more neurotic and whiney than angry and angsty as the character is portrayed in the novel. As I’m not a practicing psychologist, please don’t ask me to differentiate between the two as per the DSM-5 or whatever version the shrinks are now working off of.

However, as examples, when I, the layman psychologist that I am, think of neurotic-y (whiney) type actors in the vein of Hoffman’s Braddock, I easily think of Woody Allen (obviously), Owen Wilson, and Jesse Eisenberg.

However (once again), coming up with angsty type actors in the vein of Webb’s Braddock, that’s a little harder for me to pull off – Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison both come to mind (probably can blame it on Twilight), and perhaps Zack Braff. Of course on the extreme end of the angsty scale we have Christian Bale, whose several angsty roles often seem to teeter on the precipice of sanity.

Anyway, that’s my impression of the novel. So I give it a four-star, not so much for its literary achievements (because, honestly, it’s not that well-written (Just about everything is described as perfectly this or that; and for some reason, just about every character seems to have a hearing problem as they keep having to ask What? after something is said to them. Quite annoying; however, we see a similar case of the What’s in The Catcher in the Rye as well, so… take that for what it’s worth.)). But for a book written by a twenty-four-year old that becomes the foundation for such an important movie, hey, I can afford to grade on a curve and give it an extra star.

Incidentally, it’s interesting to me that both J.D. Salinger and Charles Webb were so disillusioned with society that one became a famous grouchy recluse and the other donated his book proceeds to charity and lived a chosen life of poverty.

How ’bout that?

RAINY SEASON – A Review by Whispering Stories

Review excerpt:

A jazz club in Tokyo, mysterious men in black suits, money owed, and bones are broken. Yes, just the perfect storyline for a noir title. Brindley writes settings and atmosphere so well. You are taken there and planted as you read. Whether it’s a crowded street corner, hospital waiting room, or local ramen diner, you will feel your surroundings.

JennaScribbles of Whispering Stories


Read the complete four-star review at Whispering Stories:

WHISPERINGSTORIES.COM

My Novel Approach to Novel Writing

At least it’s novel to me…

Anyway, these kinds of posts are always a bit self indulgent, but if you’re like me (and god help you if you are), you too like to know how the sausage is made when it comes to an author’s creative process.

I’m both old and old school when it comes to writing. First drafts are were always done with pen and paper.

Mostly because I love the physical act of writing, the feel of pen in hand, the feel of ink flowing on the paper.

But also because if I try to write the first draft on the computer I never make it out of the first chapter seeing that I’m one of those edit-as-you-go guys. I have too many folders with forgotten novels with unfinished first drafts that I attempted to write on the computer.

Writing the first draft by hand allows for limited editing — a line through here, a line through there maybe — and because of this, I enjoy a more immersive, free flowing writing experience…

One that actually results in finished novels.

How ’bout that?

But there is a catch.

My handwriting is garbage.

Which means draft two is pure and absolute torture when it comes to typing it up into the computer. Oftentimes it takes longer to type up the second draft than it did writing out the first.

Which brings me to my novel approach to first drafts, an approach that saves me months in novel development…

The iPad.

And the Nebo app.

Using this new technology (new to me; never been an Apple guy) I can still write out my first drafts longhand, but with the Nebo app, it automatically converts it to digital text.

It’s amazing.


The notebook contains a print copy of the screenplay (which I use as an outline for my novel). The cool sculpture/now paper weight is courtesy of my highly creative daughter. The iPad Pro 12 with Apple Pen attached shows the chapters of my latest WIP in the Nebo app.
A screenshot of the chapters in Nebo. One slight downside is that you can’t arrange the files (at least I haven’t been able to figure it out if you can) so they’re stored as they are created.
If you look at the top of the first paragraph (click on the image to enlarge), you’ll kind of see how it shows a highlight of my writing as converted text. It’s unbelievable in how well the app understanding my crappy handwriting, but if it doesn’t convert a word correctly, you can catch it in the highlight and go back and write it more clearly.

Of course you don’t get the same feel writing on the iPad as you do with pen and paper. The iPad screen is a bit slick so it takes some getting used to. I initially put a screen protector on it but that made it even slicker and it also screwed up the functions in Nebo to add and delete stuff.

The Apple Pen feels good in hand and works like a charm with zero lag between it and the tablet.

There’s another tablet I’m interested in checking out that is designed specifically for writing. It’s called reMarkable and the developers claim it will give you the feel of writing on paper. Sounds awesome. The best selling point to me for it is that it is a heck of a lot cheaper than the iPad Pro 12.

So, yeah… when it comes to drafting novels, that’s how I now roll.

Oh, and if you haven’t guessed by now, I’ll be announcing my latest novel soon…

Like tomorrow. :)

#writeon

THE GOOD KILL – A Review by Cathy Geha

I’d like to thank Ms. Cathy Geha of Cathy’s World for her review of The Good Kill. Cathy had, fortunately for me, come across the book at NetGalley.

Her’s is the forth review I’ve received from the site, which is pretty cool. It’s been downloaded from there over 50 times so hopefully we’ll see more than a few more as a time goes on. Fingers crossed.

Help me show my appreciation for Cathy’s review, and all the other many reviews she has prepared for us, by visiting her site and spending some time there with her.

CATHYGEHA.TUMBLR.COM

THE TELEPORTER by Lee Hall – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | HUMOR
THE TELEPORTER
LEE HALL
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

What if there was a power like no other? What if one drunken slouch happened to stumble where nobody has stumbled before and discovered the ability to teleport!
Just when you thought there were enough super hero stories in this world, we made another one…
Kurt Wiseman is your average mid-twenties slouch with a serial thirst for alcohol, that is until destiny calls upon him to stumble where no man has clumsily stumbled before. By day he works for a familiar sounding, power hungry, media controlling, mega rich American businessman who represents everything wrong with society today. Whilst investigating this politically loaded story arc Kurt accidentally acquires a super power like no other. The ability to teleport!
Before he can think about saving the day, Wiseman must endure a journey of self-reflection by earning the trust of his friends and overcoming his greatest weakness, booze. Even if the path is filled with comic book cliché, inappropriate one liners and genre busting fourth wall action.
Not all heroes in this world are the same and with great power comes the possibility to go viral! This is a story that will unite humanity…
Kurt Wiseman is the Teleporter!

Publisher’s Book Description

This is a fun, breezy read of a book that delivers on exactly what the author set out for it to do, and that is, essentially, to have it be a fun, breezy read of a book.

How do I know this? Because we’re told as much in an author’s note at the end of the book.


“I set out to create this story with one goal in mind, which was above all, to make people laugh…” – Lee Hall


Mission accomplished, Mr. Hall.

And not only does our besodden superhero Kurt Wiseman (cool name) humor us with his meh Millennial mentality, he does so while locked in a life-or-death battle with the (stereo)typically corrupt corporate (never noticed how similar the words corrupt and corporate are in appearance until now) tech executive and his conglomerate of clownish henchmen, all while reminding us along the way of the dangers and unintended consequences of technology run amok, among other timely and topically important issues of the day.

Now, would I liked to have found the story with more fully developed characters and settings? Sure. But we must remember our tale is narrated by our slacker superhero so the sparsity in development can be considered almost apropos, as it leaves me feeling as I did as a parent when dealing with my own similarly-aged Millennial offspring who are equally adept at providing just enough information needed to keep them out of any serious trouble.

Bottom line: this is an all-around enjoyable book. Simple as that. So…

Buy it.

Read it.

Laugh with it.

THE DISTANT SOUND OF VIOLENCE by Jason Greensides — A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
THE DISTANT SOUND OF VIOLENCE
JASON GREENSIDES
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Do we ever escape the decisions we make when we’re fifteen?

Nathan Dawes, the loser from school, an outsider, street philosopher and member of The Grove Runners gang, needs Ryan’s help to get Stephanie to fall for him. When Ryan’s lawnmower is stolen, Nathan sees this as his chance to enlist Ryan in his plan. 

Although Ryan knows becoming friends with Nathan could lead to trouble, he reluctantly agrees to help.

Stephanie wants nothing to do with either of them. Besides, she’s more interested in the one guy in the world she really shouldn’t be.

As Nathan continues his pursuit of Stephanie, and Ryan gets mixed up with The Grove Runners, soon events overtake them all, haunting their lives for years to come.

Part coming of age, part mystery story, The Distant Sound of Violence is a heartbreaking tale of bad decisions and love gone wrong. It’s about choices that lead to violence, loss and tragedy.

Amazon Book Description

THE DISTANT SOUND OF VIOLENCE by Jason Greensides is a hauntingly atmospheric tour de force with its stark and captivating descriptions of English life during the Nineties and beyond set in, on, and around the mean streets of London, its fully-fleshed characters as flawed and true-to-life as any character on a page can be, and its ringing dialogue that is at times achingly smart, witty, and/or sad, and that is always cut with just the right amount of a pleasingly rhythmic patios.

Not to say that I didn’t have some quibbles with this masterwork. At over 500 pages, I thought the narrator interjecting his personal story from time to time, while interesting enough to some extent, didn’t add enough value to the overall arc and purpose of the story to merit the lengthy interjections. Specifically, there is one part of the book where the narrator again interjects himself and becomes oddly obsessive in trying to track down and map out the locations of mysterious graffiti tags left by Nathan Dawes, our also oddly obsessive (but oddly obsessive with clear purpose) protagonist; where, in the end, all the time and effort spent in the narrator’s mapping of the tags served no revealing purpose that I can tell except to further highlight something that we already knew — that our protagonist is oddly obsessive to a life-wrecking fault.

But again, these are mere quibbles and ones not nearly severe enough to lower this grateful reader’s overall five-star ranking of this highly intriguing and highly recommended epic of a read.

THE LESSER DEAD by Christopher Buehlman — A Review

BOOK | FICTION | HORROR
THE LESSER DEAD
CHRISTOPHER BUEHLMAN
AUDIOBOOK
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★


The secret is, vampires are real and I am one.
The secret is, I’m stealing from you what is most truly yours and I’m not sorry… 


New York City in 1978 is a dirty, dangerous place to live. And die. Joey Peacock knows this as well as anybody—he has spent the last forty years as an adolescent vampire, perfecting the routine he now enjoys: womanizing in punk clubs and discotheques, feeding by night, and sleeping by day with others of his kind in the macabre labyrinth under the city’s sidewalks.

The subways are his playground and his highway, shuttling him throughout Manhattan to bleed the unsuspecting in the Sheep Meadow of Central Park or in the backseats of Checker cabs, or even those in their own apartments who are too hypnotized by sitcoms to notice him opening their windows. It’s almost too easy.

Until one night he sees them hunting on his beloved subway. The children with the merry eyes. Vampires, like him…or not like him. Whatever they are, whatever their appearance means, the undead in the tunnels of Manhattan are not as safe as they once were.

And neither are the rest of us.

Amazon Book Description

Except for the originals — Shelley’s Monster; Stoker’s Dracula; Stevenson’s Mr. Hyde, etc. — when it comes to horror, regardless the medium, whether it be movies or books (although, nightmares get a pass — nothing like a good monster trying to chase me down and rip me to shreds in my dreams), I typically will give a hard pass to any story with a monster in it. Not sure why… maybe because I find that most are just too goofy to suspend reality enough for me to enjoy them.

But I tell you what, I love Christopher Buehlman’s monsters like no man should ever love a monster.

THE LESSER DEAD is my third book by Buelhman — THOSE ACROSS THE RIVER and SUICIDE MOTORCYCLE CLUB are the other two and both are outstanding reads in their own right. However, by comparison, TLD is a completely exceptional read, a pure literary masterwork, not just as a genre novel, but as a true literary novel. But even regarding it just as a horror novel, by comparison with its angsty and vulgar (vampire) coming of age vibe to it, I would say it ranks as the THE CATCHER IN THE RYE of its genre if I didn’t think TCITR was so grossly over rated. But regardless, to me TLD, although a much more complete body of work than TCITR in my opinion, deserves such similar acclaim among its contemporaries as TCITR enjoys among its. Not to mention TLD has an ending that is pure literary genius.

As if that weren’t enough, Buehlman himself narrates the audiobook and his skills as a voice actor are equal to his skills as an author.

The dude’s for real folks.

#whythefhaventanyofthisdudesbooksbeenmadeintoamovie


Featured image courtesy of Goodreads

 

NIGHT FILM – A Rapid Review

BOOK | FICTION | PSYCHOLOGICL THRILLER
NIGHT FILM
BY MARISHA PESSL

RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

Night Film by Marisha Pessl is a haunting mystery with a complex, engrossing story and complex, intriguing characters, especially Stanislas Cordova, a creepy, reclusive cultish film director who I wish to the literary gods was a real person.


Continue reading “NIGHT FILM – A Rapid Review”

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)”

Love is the answer?

There’s a rather talkative pigheaded brute of a character in my WIP whose name is Rick, Happy, Henderson. Happy loves to philosophize and pontificate to…at?… his work partner about whatever the latest topic is he’s studying during night school as if he’s now a subject matter expert. He’s not of course and he always manages to maneuver whatever it is he’s rambling on about toward a general diatribe of how the weak with their Rule of Law and “societal norms” have managed to upend the universal natural order of might makes right, which, in the end, as he sees it, limits his ability to pick up chicks.

Continue reading “Love is the answer?”