Book Review: The End Of Our Story

The End of Our Story

 

This exquisite novel, by Meg Haston, needs to be a best seller. The treat is how she probes the fringes of relationships and then dives in deep, exploring and tasting the facets and flavors of complex motivations, false starts and stops, hurt and joy, and finally resolution.

Good writing is supposed to make you feel. For me, The End Of Our Story drilled through forty-five years of ‘trying to forget’ and exposed a raw nerve that throbbed as painfully as when I was seventeen. And, that’s not a bad thing; it’s a tribute to Haston’s talent. The story centers on two teens: Bridge (short for Bridget) and Wils, a pair who have known each other since childhood. Through a time-staggered series of chapters, we experience their path, and witness the significance of people’s actions, how they can alter an otherwise beautiful trajectory. While it sits on the shelves in the teen section of a bookstore, adults should not feel shy about jumping in with both feet if for no other reason than to accept the reminder of the their role in teen life.

If there is any detraction, it might be the repetitive observations that Bridge makes while dealing with the narrative’s issues. Having said that, I still could not put the book down, staying up quite late absorbing the storyline. While it is certainly a stand-alone novel, I am hoping that Haston discovers a compelling way to continue Bridge and Wils’ story.

Review: Wake Up and Smell The Coffee

Wake Up and Smell The Coffee

Wake Up and Smell The Coffee, is a collection of monologues from actor and playwright Eric Bogosian that stream together into a one man show that examines a variety of topics from family to religion to the frustration of societal inequity and the devastation that comes with the realization there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s a play that makes you think.

In the interest of transparency, I must admit two things: I have some acting experience, and I know Frank Zagottis, the consummate performer in this adaptation. First, from an acting perspective, to tackle an eighty to ninety minute monologue is insane. In a normal play, an actor is part of an ensemble, sharing dialogue and blocking. In “Wake Up” it’s Frank and only Frank. Second, I know Frank can sing – I’ve seen him, he teaches film, he’s an all-around good guy. What I didn’t know was that he can act. My yardstick for measuring a performance is when an actor is subsumed by a role. When you watch Tom Hanks play Forest Gump, you’re not thinking “oh, that’s Tom Hanks playing Forest Gump”. When you see Stanley Tucci preen as Caesar Flickerman in Hunger Games, you’re witnessing a wholly new entity in the form of a character. Watching “Wake Up and Smell The Coffee”, I lost Frank. I forgot I knew Frank. He disappeared in plain sight.

This one-man performance is a must-see and begs the question, what will he do next and how long will we have to wait for it.

Book Review: To Catch A Killer

To Catch A Killer

Sheryl Scarborough’s novel follows a teen girl, who as a toddler witnessed her mother’s murder, a horror that remains unsolved. Obsessed with that lack of resolution, Erin is drawn into the world of forensics, largely in part because her adoptive mother’s brother works for the FBI and authored a book on the subject. Her life is further complicated by an uncommunicative parental figure, a strong desire to learn the identity of her birth-father, and deal with the murder of her favorite teacher – the catalyst that launches the story. Tossed into the mix are her burgeoning feelings toward a boy who is a prime suspect and her relationship with two zany girlfriends.

The book felt like a contemporary spin on a Nancy Drew plot as Erin moves deeper into the gray areas of the law in her search for clues to both murders and her paternity. In a classic case of misdirection, suspects keep stepping to the forefront as Erin struggles to handle the full range of teen emotions that pull in all directions.

Though she faces danger on a number of occasions, the narrative never generates a truly palpable sense of peril, and the real culprit barely scores a menacing personality. Teen fans of TV shows like CSI will appreciate the forensics primer as Erin works through the evidence she accumulates.

A fun story even if it lacks strong emotional teeth.

Book Review: Without Mercy

Without Mercy

Reading Without Mercy by Colonel David Hunt and R. J. Pineiro was like a long-awaited visit to the house that Clancy built. From start to finish, the writing duo maintains heart-pounding pacing and tension. In an all too plausible scenario, radical Islamic terrorists target New York City once more, this time with a nuclear device. The remainder of the book has multiple covert and military assets, several federal agencies, and a new President of the United States working around the clock to prevent the rest of the planned attacks.

Hunt and Pineiro have a tendency to over-season their writing with the precise make and model numbers of ships, weapons, and guns; presumably to lend an air of authenticity to the narrative, but the mixture could have done with a little less salt. As always, it’s fun to see stories where the best of American talent is unleashed against impossible odds and its many enemies. It was refreshing to see a movement away from male dominated thrillers by following four very strong female characters throughout the novel, though they couldn’t resist having two of them dealing with romantic issues. But then again, strong human/romantic relationships are often forged against a backdrop of death and destruction and provide a great source of tension.

Hunt and Pineiro made sure to illustrate the mindset of the terrorists and elucidate their motivations. The reader would be hard-pressed to resist the sense of empathy that comes with seeing what drove them to their hatred of the west. They’re also not shy about pointing out the posturing among politicians and government agencies and how dangerous it can be when faced with a time bomb.

Without Mercy delivers a story that reminds the reader just how unstable and unsafe our world is and begs the question of how effective our leadership would be if the circumstances in the novel played out in real life. Given the current political climate, the contemplation of that is almost more frightening than the book.