We’ve all been there. Some of us have visited those dark places – those sensitive locales – more than others, but we’ve all at some time or another tasted the bleakness that accompanies the negative. What sets us apart from one another is how we handle the harrowing.
In the brave “The Inconsequential Child”, author Anthony Martino deftly but strongly tackles the emotional bellows that comprises the psyche. Presenting the reader with a stream of consciousness writing style, Martino writes with a sense of abandon that makes him endearing and vulnerable – a difficult combination to achieve.
The book unfolds like a moment in time. The reader quite literally is unsure what the next chapter will bring. What will Martino share with the reader now? What light will be shed on this courageous soul’s decision to share his true life?
You can’t change the past, no matter how hard you try. The facts that comprise the past are objective, but the subjective mind just won’t stop revisiting them, trying to alter the ultimate outcome. Martino attempts to overcome his vast emotional neglect as a child with his mature, adult mind and all of the resources that the young just don’t have. The book itself is composed of chapters that individually tackle lessons that the author has learned. Cumulatively, these lessons help to shed light on the constant quest for balancing one’s past with one’s present and future, and how the achievement of balance can be attained.
Sharp and enlightening, “The Inconsequential Child” might be the chronicle of one’s man’s psychology, but it’s the subtle complexities behind every carefully selected words that makes Martino a voice for us all.
“The History of the Barclay Hotel: A collection of true short stories both epic and tragic” is an extremely interesting and well written piece from author J.M. Moore. As a whole, the book is a collection of the vast, sordid history of the Barclay Hotel, ranging from the structure’s historical past to its popularity amongst filmmakers as a set.
Immediately, I was entranced by the author’s approach to the depiction of the infamous hotel. Instead of presenting a straightforward historical retrospective of the location, J.M. Moore rather uniquely presents snippets of the past via newspaper articles and splices it with just enough back story to bring these isolated events in history alive to the reader.
Clearly, hours and hours of research was made into The Barclay by the author. Each carefully selected word is a veritable testimony to the historical facts that has befallen its walls. Is it haunted? Maybe. Have there been mysterious deaths and murders throughout the years? Uh huh. Is the novel riveting? OMG yes.
I have so many favorite parts, but the if I had to choose one, it would have to be the virtual tour of the hotel found at Barclay Hotel History.
You get chills from the stories that all of the walls speak.
Adding to the burgeoning variety of reviews that Reading Other People has been posting, Michael Pronko’s refreshing “Motions and Moments More Essays on Tokyo” can best be described as a cultural reveal on one of the most fascinating parts of the modern world.
The piece is collectively comprised of essays that brilliantly looks at fragments that, as a respective whole, help to identify and shed light on what life in Tokyo is really like. Instead of falling into the trap of focusing on the sensationalism of certain types of Tokyo life (I’m thinking the misappropriation by Americans of the Harajuku culture), Michael Pronko documents the many moving pieces of Japan’s capital city and sheds key insights and revelations into the ubiquity of Japanese living.
Among my favorites of the 42 essays is the state of cleanliness of Tokyo-ian construction sites where Pronko documents his experiences with the apparent constant state of cleaning in this mammoth city. In his words, it’s like Tokyo has been photoshopped for optimum beauty, including construction sites. Fascinating stuff. The author isn’t judging, analysing, or speculating here. He is merely an observer in a foreign country that operates on its own ideals and principles, and, simply put, is writing about what he sees without the rose-colored glasses that so often shades Western culture.
Subtitled “A Katrina Story”, author Jared Andrukanis’ “A Rooftop Above Reality” can not instantly evoke emotions of sadness and anger. Sadness about the conditions that many had to survive before getting any help, and anger at the wait until said help was received. But before those emotions are realized within Andrukanis’ natural and melodic prose, there is an underlying theme of hope that cannot be ignored. It is this affecting human buoyancy that stayed with me after I read the last word of the novel, and it is this hope that allowed me to learn more about a disaster and the power of resilience.
The novel finds a few close friends and their furry companions endure the first few days after Hurricane Katrina and their attempts at survival. They’re surrounded by water, and must adapt to ensure that they will be alive when help finally does arrive, however long that may take. The dynamic of these friends change and evolve as they are presented with situations they never imagined they would find themselves in, and their patience is often tested in the name of survival.
As the story progresses (and isn’t every memoir a story of sorts?), the actual setting of a devastated New Orleans in the aftermath of a natural disaster almost becomes secondary to the unfolding of events befalling this crew of survivors. The author here shines in writing about how humans can survive in a world without any kind of media updates or assurance that they will indeed be saved. It’s an importance piece, and indeed a very telling one, about the human condition in the face of disaster, and how one’s will can be stronger than the cumulative power of 1,000 armies.
How can I put into words the strength and bravery that lies within the pages of “Tea and Transition” – A Story of Love, The Human Spirit, and How One Man Became One Woman? How can one independent book reviewer succinctly capture the charm and power of one person’s complete change of life as they now it? Truth is, I can’t…but I can praise it.
Author Nicola Jane Chase’s memoir is so brutally honest that it lingers with you once the last page is read…and then for quite some time thereafter. Actually, I’m still hooked on it.
The book is hilarious, heart-wrenching, and compelling. Chase shines an unabashedly authentic flashlight on her own personal tale of transition. A DJ in the 80’s and 90’s, Chase became well known amongst the circles of radio and music. Upon moving to New York, she embraces her new life as a woman. What makes this presentation so accessible, is that Chase injects humour and wryness when detailing her many unique moments residing in a new country having left Europe for the ‘Big Apple’.
Always having dealt with deeply resonant feelings of misidentification with her own sex, Chase embraces living as a woman, and begins to live the life she’s always wanted to lead. Instead of a focusing strictly on her physical transformation to a woman, Chase brings awareness and spends much time on the universality of the human spirit, without any shackles of gender. She cleverly and compellingly tells her story in a more global sense: like her travels, she moved physically from one place to the next, but unlike travelling from one country to the next, her soul has moved from one world to another.
Truly unlike any instructional ‘how to write’ type of book I’ve come across before, Terry Richard Bazes’ “Plot Fiction Like the Masters” is unique and refreshing. It takes an original stance on identifying what the magic is behind some of the universally acknowledged literary classics of our time.
Using Ian Fleming’s “Dr. No”, Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Evelyn Waugh’s “A Handful of Dust” as case studies, Bazes analyzes the thematic constructs and tricks by these authors to help define what truly makes a classic. Bazes provides key, insightful commentary and instructions on what truly makes a plot a success. Using the above case studies, he separates himself from the usual rhetoric of popular writing guides and focuses on a practical aid to help the modern author create a masterpiece.
Accessibly written and rather entertaining, “Plot Fiction Like the Masters” is a welcome addition to any writers’ library. It’s original and refreshing, and, above all, extremely useful.
Kind enough to send me hard copies of the above titles, author David Gontar has seemed to find a niche in the literary world long neglected. Last visited by the masterminds behind Coles’ Notes, David Gontar provides an educational, if not revolutionary, approach to Shakespeare’s classics and parlays the Bard’s prose into layman’s terms. He also provides key commentary in essay style on key thematic constructs and messaging inherent in Shakespeare’s works.
Beginning with “Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays”, Gontar immediately gets into provocative ideas and concepts at play in the plays of Mr. Shakespeare. Touching upon the psychoanalytical interpretations of the titular play, Gontar does not shy away from the subliminal messaging within the play, as well as coming to identify Shakespeare’s trude identity and portrayal of the Oedipus myth. It’s like re-reading Hamlet set to a soundtrack of modern rock: it’ll change your perspective on the play without a doubt.
In “Unreading Shakespeare”, the author provides the reader with a more all-encompassing and vast view on Shakespeare and his genius. Instead of focusing on one work throughout his whole book, he tackles several of Shakespeare’s classics, from King Lear to Romeo and Juliet. What the reader will get from these books is not what is typically taught in colleges and universities across the world. Gontar takes away the superficiality of the usual readings of these plays and goes for the guts and innards to expose the true intentions of Shakespeare. It’s a rogue look (at least it was for me) on one’s usual thoughts on the world of these popular plays, subverting common readings of them, causing the reader to question what they’ve learned throughout the years. It’s quite provocative.
Gontar writes in accessible language, assisting as well in demystifying the myths of Shakespeare. It’s an enjoyable, interesting read. Check it out.
Written by David J. Ring III, “Unclog Your Happiness: A Practical Guide to Living Blisfully” is an uplifting, useful aide in obtaining an optimal life. He brilliantly touches upon the universal search that we are all constantly on – to be happy.
But what defines happiness? The term is as subjective as it is seemingly unattainable. While we can all agree we are looking for it, we all disagree on what ‘it’ actually is. The author takes this omnipresent journey and relegates to simplistic terms and tangible goals. Our thoughts constitute our states of happiness or, more commonly, unhappiness. But what if there was a way to harness and manipulate these thoughts to help us attain what we thought we always wanted?
Ring delves into this concept that other masterminds have already touched upon in their seminal works, most notably Eckhart Tolle and his (and one of my all time favorites) “A New Earth”. While Tolle tackles the theory of ‘no thoughts’, Ring focuses more on how to get to that state.
What follows in the enthralling read are some practical exercises and self-guided meditations that will help quite the voice in our head, opening up our mind to that state of utter bliss that governs most of our lives. As you participate on these exercises, you’ll find your mind going to places it hasn’t been to in a long, long time. Some of these places are uncomfortable but ultimately integral to finding a state of presence. Ring’s words rang true for me on many levels, allowing me to truly apply the book to my real life. A high recommendation for this book for all lovers of enlightenment and self-searching.