of a renegade minister and his controversial journey through depression and religion. This unique story details emotional breakthroughs that will make you laugh and cry. The author has chosen to remain anonymous; thus he uses the pen name — August Stine
If you are down, this will lift you up
If you are up, this will inspire you
If you are in-between, this will stimulate you
Rated PG! Oh Gee! & My Goodness!
I can’t say I much enjoyed The Modern Confessions of Saint August Stine: it contains all the usual subjects—two hyphens are routinely used where em-dashes are required, there are a few oddly-placed ellipses, and far too many jumbled paragraphs; but I’m afraid that the big problem with this book lies in its author’s writing style.
Mr. Stine writes in very short sentences, and he tells the reader everything that happens and almost never shows; and this brisk, expositional style results in a text with almost no emotional depth despite its troubling subject matter of divorce, emotional breakdown, and loss of faith.
What this means, of course, is that the reader is hard-pushed to empathise with the story before her, or with the characters which appear, and without empathy reading is very unsatisfying. We need to be emotionally involved in a book to enjoy it and I’m afraid that this book left me feeling completely disinterested.
How to fix it? Editing won’t be enough. The writer has to slow down, and take more risks with his writing. He needs to explore things more, reveal more of himself, and show us events unfolding instead of telling us everything as quickly as he can. He clearly has a story to tell: but at the moment his rush to tell it prevents the reader from getting fully absorbed in it, and that’s a shame.
I read nine pages out of one hundred and eighty three and felt exhausted by them. I’m afraid I cannot recommend this book.
Playwright Stefan Lanfer has penned a vital new book on the struggles of dads-to-be.
When a woman prepares for motherhood, other women guide her on her way. Not so a dad-to-be, who gets pats on the back, corny jokes, or vague assurances he’ll do fine. Until now, his best hope was by-moms-for-moms baby books–a gap filled by Stefan Lanfer’s The Faith of a Child and Other Stories of Becoming and Being a Dad, in which the author chronicles his own journey to, and into fatherhood, lending a comforting and humorous peek into the vagaries and joys of being a dad.
According to Lanfer, “When my wife was pregnant, I was STRESSED out, and the guys around me were no help–until, just in time, I hosted a group of dads at our home. I fed them dinner, and they fed me their stories.” As he listened, says Lanfer, “I got inside the head space of a dad, and, finally, I felt ready.”
To pay forward this gift of stories, Lanfer shares his own in The Faith of a Child. To dads-to-be, Lanfer says, “If you want tips, tactics, and advice for childbirth and parenting, you’ve got dozens of choices. But, if you want real stories that actually let you picture fatherhood, The Faith of a Child is for you.
The Faith Of A Child is composed of a series of vignettes from Lanfer’s life with his wife and, eventually, two small children. He writes in blank verse, which I didn’t find particularly successful: his writing is neither tight enough nor lyrical enough to shine in this form (to see blank verse working well, read Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow, a book I adore). And while he presents this as a book of stories to prepare men for fatherhood I’m not convinced that fathers will find the stories collected here at all useful: most are without any real resolution or message, and far too personal to Lanfer to inspire or instruct anyone else.
It’s a shame, as there are occasional glimpses of beauty: for example, the title story is touching and rather lovely. But the few gems there are are muddied by Lanfer’s rather unfocused style, and they’re hidden among a lot of other stories which only invoked a reaction of “so what?” from me, I’m afraid.
A reasonable effort, then, let down by a lack of clarity and focus. While I think it’s wonderful that the author finds his family life so compelling, he really needs to look at his stories with a harsher, more critical eye in order to recognise which are worth working on and which should be kept as a private, more personal record. I read thirty-two pages out of one hundred and fifty-five.
In Change and Decay, an archivist’s visit to a crumbling gentry estate reveals a history of sharp practice and opportunism belying the elegant exterior, and he becomes embroiled in their current intrigues.
Exchange Mechanism is a science fiction story exploring what would happen if we could see inside other people’s minds.
Candle on the Table follows a frustrated solicitor’s obsession with a perfect family, unaware that it conceals dark secrets.
The world of a maverick PR man and the Toronto Mafia collide in The Gift of the Gab.
In The Time Zone Rule, two colleagues are sent at short notice to Morocco; they find the romance of the situation irresistible, but one night’s folly changes their lives for ever.
All the stories explore moral issues within a framework of spare narration and realistic characterisation, overlain by sardonic humour and elegance of expression. They have been described as “funny, accurate and deeply cynical.”
Martin Locock is an author and poet who works as a project manager at the National library of Wales. Previously he had worked in commercial archaeology, publishing extensively on a range of obscure topics. He was born in 1962 and has lived near Swansea since 1991. He is married with three children. He writes a blog, A Few Words (http://locock.blogspot.com).
I have a small emotional attachment to this book: its author lives in the same Welsh town where my grandfather was born and foolishly this gave me hope that the book would be good. Sadly, I was disappointed.
I did appreciate the errata which the author provided which read, “Corrections. A battle of wills between author and a subversive spellcheck program has led to the replacement of some words with ‘emoraliz’.” Sadly the errata is not quite extensive enough: both ‘emoraliz’ and ‘emoralized’ make appearances, accompanied by those little empty squares which appear in various computer programs when a special character is saved in a format which the program doesn’t support: a good edit would easily have found this problem; its appearance implies problems with the person who typeset the book rather than a rampaging spellchecker; and as this book was printed via Lulu (which is exclusively POD) there was almost certainly no print run of defective books: the author felt that these books were good enough to go out with this error in place. And on that point, I strongly disagree.
The punctuation was erratic, particularly the use of dashes (hyphens are often used where dashes are required, with odd and inconsistent spacing around them); a couple of punctuation marks escaped from the quote-marks which should have enclosed them; and there were a good few surplus commas scattered throughout the text.
The writing provided me with the biggest disappointment: it was flat and dull and unengaging and no more than the barest attempt was made to catalogue the events presented. The characters had no life; the events were dull; there was no depth to the work, and no texture, apart from a couple of places where the author’s voice, and opinions, intruded. And there, too, was a problem: I couldn’t agree with the opinions he voiced, and they were presented in jargon-cluttered language which made them difficult to decipher.
On top of all of that there were issues with the grammar too. I read just nine out of a total of 187 printed pages and hope that this writer polishes his work much more thoroughly before he considers publishing anything else.
(This book doesn’t appear to be listed on Amazon so I’m unable to include a cover image or a link to its sale page.)
When a bomb, looking for a friend, follows a young boy home, trouble breaks out in a suburban household that is just trying to keep peace with the angry neighbors next door.
I make it quite clear that I don’t review picture books so by sending me a picture book to review, the authors of The Bomb That Followed Me Home: A Fairly Twisted Fairy Tale already have a strike against them.
Because this is a picture book it has relatively little text and I’ll admit, I consequently reached the end before I’d found my fifteen errors: so as I do follow the rules here, I shall now review the book even though it shouldn’t have been submitted to me in the first place.
According to the the press release which was included with this book, the author and illustrator responsible for this book are being deliberately provocative in an attempt to make their readers think about social issues: I wish they’d spent a little more time working on their story, and a little less time thinking about how clever they could be, because it just doesn’t work.
In the book, a bomb follows a little boy home; the next-door neighbour shouts at the boy when he takes a short cut through her garden; and as his parents don’t like the neighbour either, they end up giving the bomb to her. You can guess the ending. And if you want to be helpful you could also try to guess the social commentary contained within the story because all I can see here is a book with an ugly cover and a retro-in-all-the-wrong-ways design; an unengaging text with a few clumsy attempts at humour and characterisation, and a glib, self-congratulatory tone which alienated me right from the start.