Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A thumb rises at The International Review of Books

Sayville Tales, as reviewed by The International Review of Books (July 2019)

To join this train journey, you will need a healthy sense of humour, and a firm distaste for apples.

With his tongue firmly in his cheek, (I hope) Lawrence Jay Switzer takes readers on a train journey where interesting characters tell tales of life, the afterlife, death, nuns, unicorns, the mystery of bagels, the brown fox and See Spot Run. He spares no one, not Donald Trump, the Pope, the Devil, history, or, for that matter, Mormons, Jews, the Irish, Christians, Steven Spielberg, and rainbow bagels. The Rabbi can't explain rainbow bagels and urges you to write to the Pope directly...address supplied. No need for a stamp.

I've sniggered my way through Hell, the train ride, beautifully illustrated, and stories told with such ironic wit, it was almost like watching an American version of a Monty Python show with pot.

Nothing is sacred here, American history is told with pictures and conspiracy theories that will blow your mind.

Take your time with this book. The Devil is around all the time, so be careful when you are offered temptations - he loves red apples...

In the words of the author, a small excerpt: "Well, to me, it’s obvious,” the Professor explained with a shrug. “What should be obvious to you, though—for your own good—is that not everything is what it seems to be or says it is.”

Savour these alternative tales of wit, wisdom, bad choices and a smooth train ride to Sayville. Linger in Hell to have your picture taken but get out before your bad past catches up with you. Spot isn't running anymore, and he knows exactly who stopped him...

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Promises in the first chapter; delivers by the last

Life InchesLife Inches by P.D. Platt  5 of 5 stars. ///  Textually silky-smoothe and self-assured, this novella-length story tells the tale of a man who must survive the visitation of a physical and emotional ordeal, with injured limbs and quick thinking the only tools at his disposal.

The prose the author has used so skillfully takes you from Point A to Point Z without a bump. It's suave and cool like our hero is suave and cool. He never panics (like we undoubtedly would) and chooses his moves as carefully as the author chooses his words. The style is a reflection of the principal character. This text is laid back, purposeful, with good forward momentum.e

I am always impressed with flowing prose, especially in a piece like this, where the suspense that is being carefully built up can be sidelined by a few false moves in narration. Here, every word is made to matter. Start with this: "Even though self-preservation overruled his body’s physical limits, he knew it was only temporary. Even the instinct and will to survive can overcome and persevere for only a measured amount of time. Gravity never relents"—see, no extra fat there, right?—which logically flows into this: "He would need to tap into the tiny corner of the brain that is rarely utilized by most people (either for reasons of choice or circumstance) but serves a singular purpose: the will to survive."

Equally well-managed are those small, but essential, moments of reflection carrying the reader outside the central plot for understanding motivation, adding depth to character, but without distracting longeurs. That level of refinement produces this: "In that moment, he realized how much he missed her voice. Her smile. Her."

When an author delivers what he promises with sincerity, artistic integrity, and no compromises (meaning no padding, extraneous detail, or outlandish dialog), they’ve earned their five stars. So, here they are for Mr. Platt, who definitely knows what he’s doing in this medium. I guess I’ll have to read some longer works he’s produced to see what he’s like when he stretches his arms out further.