Posts Tagged ‘provides unnecessary detail’

In The Land Of Cotton: Martha A Taylor

March 25, 2010 5 comments

Political Freedom & Security – Civil Rights


Immerse yourself in this highly anticipated political docu-drama set in the Deep South amidst the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement.

Martha was a young white girl living in the Deep South, inundated with the racist sentiments of the times. But Martha’s natural curiosity and generous heart led her to question this racial divide. When she discovered a primitive Negro family living deep in the woods near her house, everyone’s life changed for ever.

Take the journey of a lifetime alongside Martha as she forges relationships that lead to self discovery and a clearer understanding of the world around her. In the Land of Cotton provides an outstanding snapshot of life in the South during those troubled times – a snapshot everyone should take a close look at, regardless of era or color.

The year was 1956.

I have a feeling that there’s a fascinating story lurking on the pages of In the Land of Cotton: the problem is that it’s buried beneath a lot of clumsy writing and careless mistakes, most of which could be cleared up by a careful edit and a thoughtful rewrite. Several sentences were so poorly-written that I had to stop and reread them in order to understand them fully; and there were a few places where entirely the wrong words had been used. The foreword is particularly badly-written and does the book no favours—I would drop it entirely; but if the writer is determined to keep it then she’d be wise to at least explain who its author is, and why his opinion of her and this book is significant: because although he’s clearly significant to her, I don’t know who he is or how he is connected to the book.

Overall, then, this book is a missed opportunity: its writer rushed into publication before she was really ready for it. Her writing is not yet good enough to be published, and her editing skills will have to be far sharper than they are right now if she wants to make the best of her work.

If she had worked harder on learning her craft and been a little less eager to get into print she’d have done herself and her readers a big favour: as it is, the book just isn’t good enough. I read seventeen pages of In the Land of Cotton, and I closed this book feeling saddened: the writer could have done so much better if she had only taken a little more time.

al-Qaeda Strikes Again

June 11, 2009 Comments off

Bill Binkley:

Has taken his first excursion into fiction with this fast-paced and exciting book about international terrorists.

al-Qaeda Strikes Again

The inexplicable suicide of a female passenger at JFK International Airport and a secret list discovered by authorities in Pakistan set the stage for a diabolical and deadly a-Qaeda plot involving simultaneous and catastrophic acts of terrorism across the United States. In a race against time, the only question is whether Terrorism Task Force Leader, Wayne Kirby, and his Rambo-like girlfriend, Rennie Jordan, will live long enough to unravel the details, find the terrorists and put a stop to their deadly jihad.

A few months after OJ Simpson’s murder trial a flood of novels about celebrities who had got away with something appeared on editors’ desks. The ones I saw offered nothing new and were, on the whole, barely-disguised retellings of OJ’s tale.

A similar influx of derivative works arrived after 9/11, only this time they had a far more sinister edge. Stories in which the bad guys were bad guys simply because they were Muslims, or Foreign, littered the slush-piles. Most paid little attention to developing a believable plot or creating compelling characters: simply showing (or more usually, telling) that a character was somehow Other was considered enough to establish him or her as a potential terrorist. It is a deeply racist approach, and one which the author of al-Qaeda Strikes Again relies upon to tell his story.

The book begins with a woman flying into America and dying soon after she arrives at the airport. Right from the start she is suspected of being a terrorist despite there being no evidence of that apart from her name: Safia Makhdoom.

Luckily, this story is told so very badly that I didn’t have to read much of it is to find my fifteen errors. The book contains a fair scattering of punctuation problems (hyphens are commonly used when dashes should appear; comma-splices abound), a couple of spelling mistakes, and numerous nameless characters which are indistinguishable from one another. The one exception is an “officer” (of what, I’m not quite sure) who is distinguished from his colleagues by the “epaulets” [sic] he wears. Whole weeks are lost in time-slips; characters disappear on trips which should be mysterious, considering how little reason or excuse is given for them: instead they are simply dull absences of dull characters in a book which you’d be better off avoiding.

I read five pages of this one, and suggest that you don’t even consider trying it.

Refined In The Furnace Of Affliction: John McCulloch

May 28, 2009 4 comments


John McCulloch’s oldest son received a head injury at birth, re-sulting in blindness. A second injury at age 28, resulted in his being confined to a nursing home for life. This book is about how these afflictions and others led one family to a positive result.

Refined in the Furnace of Affliction is John McCulloch’s account of both his own life and the life of his son John, who received a head injury at birth and was subsequently disabled. There’s an insistent strand of Christianity and prayer in this book, and a strong focus on the need for family life, and it’s obvious that McCulloch is passionate and devoted to all of these things. Sadly, he isn’t a good writer and that lack of expertise means that this book is a flat, dull read.

Most of the pages reminded me of the journals I used to keep as a child: “I got up and then I had my breakfast and then I brushed my teeth and went to school”. It’s all tell and no show and it’s very disorganised, too: in the middle of what should be a heartbreaking tale of the birth of his disabled son, McCulloch abruptly breaks into an account of how his wife got a good deal on a car.

This is a very badly-written book which I wish I could have reviewed more favourably. I read only eleven of its one hundred and fourteen pages.