It's obvious Tricia McDonald loves her miniature bull terrier, Sally: who else but a devoted dog mom would drive three hours just to take their pup toIt's obvious Tricia McDonald loves her miniature bull terrier, Sally: who else but a devoted dog mom would drive three hours just to take their pup to an ice cream shop for dogs? Or devote an entire essay to how much she missed her companion during a weeklong writing retreat? Or treat their beloved to a doggy massage? However, even though McDonald's adoration of Sally is never in question, the same can't be said for her prose -- it's clunky and cliche-riddled. What's presented as humor come across like flat soda. For instance, at a time when adopting shelter dogs is widely encouraged, her first essay about buying Sally via the interwebs -- and writing a three-figure check to an airline for her transport -- is astonishingly tone-deaf.
This slim small-press tome illustrates one of the today's biggest publishing problems: it's easier than ever to self-publish, be it on the Net or through a local printer, and as a result many hacks find their wooden way into the light. McDonald fancies herself an auteur, but she's just a mediocre scribe whose work falls so short not even Esther Newberg could save it.
The muddy black & white photos undermine any last shred of credibility for this collection....more
Dan Baum follows the lives of nine disparate New Orleanians -- from a bedraggled ex-convict to a high society white lawyer -- over four decades and brDan Baum follows the lives of nine disparate New Orleanians -- from a bedraggled ex-convict to a high society white lawyer -- over four decades and bracketed by two spectacular hurricanes to demonstrate how life was fundamentally changed, if not completely destroyed, by Hurricane Katrina. While many books have covered the storm and its effects on the Big Easy, none have focused as sharply on the individuals injured, killed and left homeless by the hurricane that leveled the Gulf Coast -- and how they rose again, no matter how hopeless it may have seemed, to resurrect the only city they could ever call home....more
Five years after giving up her daughter for adoption, Bernice is determined to reclaim the girl from David and Tessa, the conservative Christian couplFive years after giving up her daughter for adoption, Bernice is determined to reclaim the girl from David and Tessa, the conservative Christian couple who became her parents. However, as she rushes headlong into action without a plan, she not only finds herself unprepared for parenthood, but bewildered that no one comes to her defense. As Bernice flees Colorado for her native Baltimore, their daughter's kidnapping exposes the deep flaws in David and Tessa's marriage, especially as a woman named Robin exposes David's many secrets and flaws ... none of which fit with his professed faith.
While the story sounds promising, the delivery is not. Geoffrey Becker delivers an uneven tale with little plot and no real plan, just like Bernice. Not even Emily, the little girl ostensibly at the heart of the action, is interesting. Many of the characters -- especially the adoptive father, David -- are dusty stereotypes and never emerge as real people. Even what are supposed to be revelations, such as the identity of man who impregnated Bernice all those years ago, fall flat.
Apparently Mr. Becker is capable of much better work -- his story collection, Black Elvis, won the 2008 Flannery O'Connor Prize for fiction -- but it's not evident in Hot Springs....more
Serge A. Storms and Dexter Morgan have a lot in common. Both are Florida-based serial killers who only target those who deserve their fate, and each hSerge A. Storms and Dexter Morgan have a lot in common. Both are Florida-based serial killers who only target those who deserve their fate, and each has a wicked sense of humor. But Dexter – in print, if not onscreen – has been hampered by his increasingly barren creator, Jeff Lindsay, while Serge’s inventor, Tim Dorsey, continues his character’s breakneck momentum into his 12th novel, juggling a complicated and intense story with antics that can only be attributed to the Sunshine State’s greatest maniac.
Gator a-Go-Go reunites all the Dorsey characters that have survived so far: Coleman, City and Country, the G-Unit, the Davenports (in the form of their son Melvin), Johnny Vegas and, of course, Agent Mahoney. (Lenny and the lone surviving Diaz brother appear as drive-by references, as does the not-so-dearly-departed Sharon). The story revolves around Patrick McKenna and his son Andy, who have just been unmasked after fifteen years in the Witness Protection Program. The question running through the novel is: who will get to them first, the Miami-based drug dealers or the FBI? And just who, in that equation, are the bad guys?
The action takes place during spring break, progressing from Panama City Beach to Fort Lauderdale, as Serge films a documentary on the annual event and Coleman becomes the guru of a band of faithful collegians that includes Andy McKenna. He’s not only fleeing his frigid New Hampshire campus, but a quartet of killers intent on erasing him, and any companions, as revenge for his father’s testimony a decade and a half earlier. As the assassins unerringly track Serge and his merry band throughout their journey, they realize a good guy has turned informant, and Serge, naturally, becomes Andy’s protector … but he isn’t sure he trusts Florida’s pre-eminent psycho trickster, especially as the mayhem reaches record levels (along with spot-on references to Flat Stanley and inspired use of Bacardi 151).
While the usual band of spring break participants are trotted out – drunk & crazy kids, Girls Gone Haywire, bikers, hookers, preachers, pawn brokers and reality TV -- Dorsey keeps the story fresh by injecting the regular crew, along with a troop of newcomers, in consistently interesting sidelines that eventually, and seamlessly, meld with the main story. He never drops a character or incident, and he maintains a level of suspense Lindsay’s Dexter tales have never managed – all in the service of Serge A. Storms. May his freak flag bravely, and forever, wave. ...more