Our good friend in literature and life, Paul Xylinides, author of the powerful and finely crafted novel THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA, among other works, has taken on the noble challenge of standing up a literary review site that I encourage each of you to visit regularly and enjoy.
The site is called theliteraryreader ~ Reviews of the written word and you can find it at theliteraryreader.com.
So please join me in congratulating Paul on this new adventure of his and thank him for furthering the recognition and advancement of the written word.
Congratulations, Paul, and may you enjoy a success such that we all may be rewarded and enlightened by it.
The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor by Kurt Brindley
Review by Paul Xylinides
Kurt Brindley joins forces with Herman Melville
Before I begin this review, let me first recommend to anyone whom it persuades to read The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor, that after doing so they further benefit themselves by looking again at their copy of Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor that I shall, however, quote from extensively. Kurt Brindley’s accomplishment should come into even greater focus when looked at through the lens of the nineteenth century classic novel.
Anyone who has ever experienced the injustice of being condemned by those who characterize their sensitivities in ways fundamentally at odds with their true identity will respond deeply to the travails of Kurt Brindley”s protagonist in The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor. From a tellingly different perspective the same fate befalls Melville’s hero. One cannot help but…
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.
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.
In my view, it’s always pretty awesome around here, especially since we kicked off the Indie Author Book Selection & Review and Relating to Humans features a while back. But this week has been especially awesome. For this week we have witnessed the original thinking, compelling insight, and unique writing style of Indie Author Paul Xylinides with his essays TOTAL WAR OR TOTAL PEACE, a Relating to Humans Political Issues contribution, and Covered in Fish Oil and Honey while Sitting in a Public Toilet, his Guest Author contribution.
And it’s quite obvious to me, and empirically so, that you all think Paul’s essays are pretty awesome, too, judging by all the “Likes” you’ve given them, and the interesting comments you’ve left in response, and, especially, by all the page views they’ve received.
I must say, I wholeheartedly concur with your assessment.
Now, admittedly, I have an occasional tendency toward hyperbole, but you can take me at my word that, after reading Paul’s interesting essays, I was very excited to receive his book THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA, the IABS&R Volume 2 selection.
Covered in Fish Oil and Honey while Sitting in a Public Toilet
by Paul Xylinides
At one time, I might have listened to my puritanical side and questioned this title for a post and perhaps especially a post that I had been invited to contribute as unnecessarily sensationalistic in the same manner that I once dismissed the real life event of performance art to which it refers. In fact when I began to write the novel whose working title The Sumo and his Bird finally became The Wild Horses of Hiroshima one of my intentions was to undertake a full-scale critical denunciation of events similar to what is described and commonly tagged by the rubric of “performance art”. I intended at the same time to include in the sweep of my scathing criticism much of the “installation art” that I had long dismissed as either insulting or derivative. These attitudes of mine reach far back to the original instigator of this type of art presentation – the one who contributed to the world’s cultural understanding with the galley exhibit of a men’s urinal. The following is the Tate Gallery’s description of the object and something of Marcel Duchamp’s idea of its artistic utility: Continue reading “Paul Xylinides, Author of THE 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…”