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THE REINVENTION OF ALBERT PAUGH: A Novel Story about retirement ~Jean Davies Okimoto

Monday, August 17th, 2015

I can hardly wait to tell you about this delightful story, the third in Okimoto’s trilogy about Vashon Island and its special landmarks and the culture of living on an island close to a huge and popular city.   The book came into my computer as a digital file and I needed to make a list of 10 things I was going to accomplish before I read the first page because I knew I would just be hooked right away and unable to do anything else.   The author is a great story telling wizard with just the most remarkable humor, she must have a twinkle in her eye at all times.  She certainly has caught island life and the foibles and emotions of the folks who inhabit and live within it’s confines.

TLC Book Tours has now sent me each of the books Okimoto has written for review.  I am just so lucky.  THE LOVE CEILING   was the start and then we moved onto WALTER’S MUSE.    The wise philosopher has turned 90 and is included into this new story, along with Maggie and Walter and Howie and Mark but the cast has expanded to include more of the folks who are a part of Albert Paugh’s life and veterinary practice.

The characters are so believable and may just remind you of someone you know and enjoy.  I felt a need to call one of my neighbors and also to entice my husband into reading this story as he is looking forward to retirement with no major plans except to paint and walk our dog.  He may just find himself confused also.

Dr. Paugh has had a heart attack and his wife persuaded him to sell his practice and retire.  It was just in time, as she needed help to heal from a lung cancer, which changed her life and what she wanted for her future.  Albert was not included in that future and after 24 years he is about to become divorced.  His wife never did like Bert, his chocolate lab, and now the two must find a new place to live and what to do with their time.

The single women, of a certain age and dog owners are quite interested in Dr. Paugh’s new status and this is becoming a problem that sends Al and Bert to the beach for long walks.

I was able to persuade my large book group to read WALTER’s MUSE  and I think I will have luck again with THE REINVENTION OF ALBERT PAUGH.  What will we all do at retirement? And how will we feel useful and of service to others and what will capture our energies in a good way and in a concerning way?
It was delightful to see how Dr. Paugh and the folks on Vashon Island were taking hold and making a difference to so many.

From the Book:

“Jean Davis Okimoto is an author and playwright whose books and short stories have been translated into Japanese, Italian, Chinese, German, Korean, Danish and Hebrew.  She is the recipient of numerous awards including Smithsonian Notable Book, The American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, the Washington Governor’s Award, the Green Earth Book Award, and the International Reading Association Readers Choice Award.  Her picture book, Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat was adapted by Shelly Duvall for the HBO and Showtime television series BEDTIME STORIES.  Jeanie, who is also a retired psychotherapist, began writing for adults when she and her husband Joe retired to Vashon Island in 2004 where they (and their dogs Bert and Willie) are visited by deer families and their six grandchildren.”

This book is for anyone who likes a good story, has retired, is failing retirement, and enjoys a fun read.  One does not need to read all three stories but they are so fun, Why not? THE REINVENTION OF ALBERT PAUGH

Related:
The Love Ceiling
Walter’s Muse

DISINTEGRATION: A Windy City Dark Mystery ~Richard Thomas

Monday, June 15th, 2015

This is one of the darkest books I have ever read.  It was so black that I just could not believe that the author was so prized and that folks were praising this story.  The beginning was so confusing and disorienting that the reader knows right away that the main character is either very mentally ill or a drug addicted and is in such tremendous pain it is hard to keep turning the pages and going forward.  It does resolve into a coherent story more that half way through and yet I did not find this reassuring or satisfying.

“A dark existential thriller of unexpected twists, featuring a drowning man determined to pull the rest of the world under with him, Disintegration is a stunning and vital piece of work.”—Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting (from Amazon’s book page)

Thomas’ biography on Amazon

BIO: Richard Thomas is the author of seven books: Three novels, Disintegration and The Breaker (Random House Alibi), and Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections, Tribulations (TBA), Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press), and Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press); as well as one novella of The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 100 stories published, his credits include Cemetery Dance, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, and Shivers 6. He has won contests at ChiZine, One Buck Horror, and Jotspeak and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of four anthologies: Exigencies and The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk (finalist for the Bram Stoker Award). In his spare time he is a columnist at LitReactor and Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. He has taught at LitReactor, the University of Iowa, StoryStudio Chicago, and in Transylvania. His agent is Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com.

I found the book to be horrifying and hard to read as the underworld and maybe Russian Mafia are exposed for the rest of the world to see and comprehend.   It was so hard to read and I had to keep putting it down and leaving it alone for hours at a time.  I now have it completed and see that it has a huge 5 star rating on Amazon already and the critics are loving how hard hitting it is and surly.  Apparently, I may be the only one who does not like this dark a read.   Maybe I am naïve and just have a high need to ignore this section of our society and pretend it does not exist.   I was so happy when the book was complete, finished and the read done.    I do agree that the book it hard hitting and sticks with the reader long after completion.

So this confusing man is writing the story and sharing with the reader this tough existence he is experiencing.  His assignments are shoved under the door and so he heads out to begin killing people, smoking dope, drinking and drinking and drinking and rarely eating.   He talks about his family being killed in a car accident through listening to his answering machine in little semi – revealing bursts.  Life hardly matters to him he is blind and doped up all the time and full of anger and rage.  Near the end of the book he has figured out what has happened to him and he kills his source.

TLC Book Tours sent me an advanced copy of this book for review and I can honestly say I read it cover to cover.   There are folks really enjoying this dark read and Thomas’s writing but I do not know if I can recommend this book to anyone.

Related:
The Organ Takers  
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

GHOST HORSE: a Novel ~Thomas H. McNeely

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

“’Divorce,’ she said, “is a disease caused by the lies of feminism and secular humanism.’” (Catholic school teacher’s words to middle school boys; early pages of uncorrected, advanced copy)

GHOST HORSE is a book I found hard to read and yet very worthwhile.  It came in the loveliest package, with a folder full of publicity material and extra resources.  The font was precise and extremely small on my review advanced copy and there were no page numbers.  I thought it was a young adult book, now I know this book needs discussion because there is a surface story and then the recording of societal change which is impacting our current lives with tremendous relevance.

Buddy is a 12 year old boy who is being torn apart with the normal feelings of the changes in a boy’s life, by his Catholic education, by his physician father’s return after 12 years of being away, by his sparing, controlling grandmothers, and by the transitions the USA was making in the turbulent 1970s.  He can see how hard his mother is working and how smart she is and well trained as she runs a pathology lab and teaches.  Margot supports her own mother and is buying a house for her.  There is not adequate childcare or transportation for her son and she must work extremely long hours because her pay is not equal to men’s income.  Dad wants a divorce and custody of Buddy, Jimmy is a physician wanting a huge, fancy house and he runs his own cancer/pathology lab.

GHOST HORSE is about a time when the folks in Houston, Texas were just exploring big changes in expectations and culture and yet it is a place where one could delineate the classes and futures clearly.  The Mexicans lived in one area, the whites another, the wealthy even another location and the Negroes had their own place on this earth.   There were even more categories such as conservative Christians and trailer trash; people spoke one way at home and the well-educated spoke another way in public.  The Priests and teachers were eager to spread the message of anti- change, violence and hate.   How is a boy to find himself and figure out who he is and what his true relationships are; Buddy becomes extremely confused trying to make sense of who he is and what he needs to do?

Thomas H. McNeely is a writer and a professor and he grew up in Houston during this time of turmoil.  It took him 14 years to write GHOST HORSE.   The boy’s confusion comes right off the page and into the mind with the concise puncture of incredible words and feelings exquisitely placed on the page.  Racism, sexism, homophobia, fundamentalism, bigotry, economic inequality, hatred and violence coming at Buddy at every moment of this boy’s day haunting him like the GHOST HORSE – where is the escape?  Would it be in making a movie about the GHOST HORSE with your Mexican friend?

TLC Book Tours and Gival Press  sent me an advanced copy to review of GHOST HORSE.   The story pushed a great many personal feelings to the surface for me.  I was back working at as an Adult Educator in the South and thinking about all the threats I received and how angry people were and how many refused to even acknowledge the problems – how quick to blame and hold on to their perceived values.  Paula Dean, the southern chef, reminded me last year when she said, “we used the ‘N’ word at home all the time”;  she was ostracized.  Our feelings are just masked now and we can see the backlash to change with the election of President Obama.   Baby!  We have not come a long way.  We need these reveals and yet we cower like a 12 year old boy and keep it to ourselves until we find a point of outrage and release.

Thomas H. McNeely is a very interesting person and the winner of numerous awards.   GHOST HORSE has been nominated for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and has won the Editor’s Choice award at Amazon.

Related:
The Signature of All Things
The New Men
Margaret Fuller
Supreme Justice