Well, I wrote the damn thing so I guess I should review it too. That seems to make perfect sense.
This book is fucking great. Wait, no, that's a lie. TWell, I wrote the damn thing so I guess I should review it too. That seems to make perfect sense.
This book is fucking great. Wait, no, that's a lie. This book is a flaming pile of shit. You should buy it just so you can burn it, effectively removing one copy from circulation and preventing any other poor sot from wasting his/her time with it. I only gave myself 4 stars out of pity. I was going to give myself 3 stars, but then the 3 star rating appeared too calculated, too intentionally 'up the middle' in some sort of desperate attempt to appear objective about my own work. I then got confused, just clicked the 4 stars and wrote the following:
You should read the The Help like every other person in the US. Oprah recommends it and it's not physically possible for her to be wrong. No, wait, you should go pick up Danielle Steele's latest book. 800 million copies of her books sold since the 70's...can't go wrong there. She has pumped out three novels per year since 2005, so, if nothing else, you know you are getting thoughtful, challenging literature. Word is she is going to start producing stream-of-thought novels on a weekly basis starting in 2012. For just $24.99, you too can own a hardback copy (with a beautiful, shiny dust cover) of a muddy, wandering dissertation on the failures of some rich person's romance. Gun not included. ...more
John Zunski's book is a poignant look into the mixture of happiness and tragedy that accompanies many of us as we navigate our way through the volatilJohn Zunski's book is a poignant look into the mixture of happiness and tragedy that accompanies many of us as we navigate our way through the volatile teen years on through to the indecision of early adulthood. He beautifully captures the evolution of an early teen friendship (James and Shannie) and its often confused and conflicted entry into the realm of love. Along the way, Zunski helps to remind us that the bonds we establish early in our lives echo into our futures, shaping who we are and how we relate to the world.
The story is told from the perspective of protagonist James Morrison and begins with him, as an adult, reflecting on the loss of a childhood friend-cum-confidant-cum-lover. The story quickly takes root in James' past where Zunski pieces together the trials and tribulations of the teenage years, as experienced by James and his close knit group of friends, growing up in the shadows of a cemetery. A cemetery which, throughout the story, provides a constant reminder of the fragility and sometimes abbreviated nature of life. Along the train tracks in a small suburban town outside of Philadelphia, James and his friends grow together forging strong ties starting in middle school, into high school and onto college and professional endeavors which pull them apart only physically.
Cemetery Street has several themes working throughout, however, at its core, it is a touching tale of a love that never had the opportunity to fully bloom in a manner befitting the protagonist. A lack of will, unclear desires and a life cut short all intertwine to create a story revealing that our hopes and aspirations always manage to lie beyond our control. Zunski's storytelling strong hand lies in his suppression of the reveal, choosing instead to focus on character development diving deep into their thoughts, troubles, and challenges. It is done with a certain finesse allowing the reader to become a witness to events rather than merely a page turning machine.
As it must be stated, the novel is not beyond criticism and there were a few elements of the novel which I struggled to digest. Specifically, I found there to be some 'inauthentic' language and dialog which had me second guessing specified ages of characters and points in history. Additionally, there were a couple of conflict situations which seemed to accelerate at an unnatural pace. Taken as a whole though, these elements did not cast much of a shadow over what is otherwise a quality piece of work. I look forward to future titles from Zunski! ...more
The novel begins on the premise that the author (Birch) received a letter from a former high school friend/underground political activist (Emory WaldeThe novel begins on the premise that the author (Birch) received a letter from a former high school friend/underground political activist (Emory Walden) who disappeared in early 2011. In the letter, Walden asks the Birch to publish the details of his story outside traditional publishing circles to ensure the integrity of the story.
Back in the US after a stint in Europe, Walden learns about the impact his political blog is having among a contingent of angry citizens in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse. While attempting to reestablish himself in the US, Walden crosses paths with retired marketing executive (Fletcher Spivey) who expresses interest in harnessing Walden's voice and energy to push his reawakened ideologies after keeping them dormant for decades as he built a massive corporate machine. The story that follows is a fast-paced political thriller that tracks Walden through the many turns (sometimes with jarring affect) in his relationship with Spivey et al as they attempt to spark change in an increasingly volatile fringe citizenry. Acting as a covert operative attempting to amass a following of discontents, Walden becomes increasingly paranoid that his operation with Spivey has been infiltrated and he finds himself racing against time to determine the true nature of several of his key relationships.
Discontents is a solid debut from author James Wallace Birch. By using witty dialogue, well-crafted prose and constantly stoking the coals of unsettled relationships and motivations, Birch maintains a consistent level of traction with the reader enabling a near effortless ability to engage the material. Main characters are well-developed, relationships are clear, and ulterior desires/motivations are effectively obfuscated as the story unwinds keeping suspense at the level of intrigue. Characters are very human/authentic and Birch adeptly portrays the many relationship threads and conflicts everyone encounters as they attempt to balance personal and professional lives. Birch is an effective storyteller, capable of extracting the essence out of his characters and leaving the reader to make judgments.
Twists and turns in the plotline ramp up substantially as Emory's relationship with Fletcher develops, requiring a close read to remain cognizant of the quickly developing set of 'facts'. These turns can be rather abrupt and loosely defined at times which may throw readers off.
For the political-minded reader, Discontents is not only an enjoyable adventure pushing back against the fabricated majority, but also an exploration of the challenges one faces when putting everything on the line to service ideals. ...more