A quick warning and a tale of two books

I’m not messing around when I said “a quick warning,” because I’ve reached that point again.  I’ve got the last few chapters of OTHER THING in my sights, meaning I expect to finish it this week.  Huzzah for finishing drafts of books, right?  Right.


I’ve given myself a pretty firm deadline to type the “The End” on draft zero, and it’s one I don’t want to miss. As you can see, though, as of the time of this posting, I’ve still got almost a third of the book to yet scribble down.  Now, I know that seems bad, but trust me, the end parts come out quickly.  It’s the middles where a writer will tend to drag his feet like a kid headed for the dentist’s chair.

Anyway the point is that posts will be light this week.  I know, I know, “they’ve been light”, you say.  You have a perfectly valid point.  I’m sorry.  But trust me, it’ll all be worthwhile.  I swear.

And by “worthwhile”, I make no specific promises of any kind.  Sort of like your typical game show host.

Now, that said, it’s time for a quick rundown of What Puddin Read Last Week:

First, after many, many, many years of not reading The Great Gatsby – even though I swore I was so going to do it this time – I actually broke down and read the book that’s been persecuting middle-and-slash-or-high school students for decades.

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I somehow didn’t read this lo, the many years ago, in either middle school, high school, or college. And have been berating myself for missing out on an American “classic” ever since I started considering books as literature.

And now, having finally read Gatsby, I feel like the best I have to say is, “meh”.

I suppose if I read the Cliff’s notes or sat through a literature class, I’d see the myriad of wonderful things here. But most of what I found was Fitzgerald self-indulgently arguing that the world is a terrible place full of terrible people and terrible things, and we all just have to keep pushing through the terribleness. Nobody wants what they have, everyone wants the things they can’t have, no one appreciates much of anything, and everyone is perfectly willing to do awful things and then lie to themselves about it.

And I guess, sure, there’s plenty of that in the world. Certainly, I appreciate this as a cautionary tale, and I do very much like Fitzgerald’s ease with the language. It’s not easy writing this way while keeping it from seeming overwritten.

I didn’t hate Gatsby, and I can see why it’s considered an American classic. But I just didn’t fall in love with it they way so many others have over the years.

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Second is the new offering from fellow Northern Kentucky author, Howard McEwen.  I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Daddy Issues, as it generally falls pretty far outside of my reading wheelhouse.  But sometimes when you take a chance on something, you find a little about yourself out in the process.

Daddy IssuesDaddy Issues by Howard McEwen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Scrolling down my list of read books, it’s pretty clear that Daddy Issues by Howard McEwen is not at all typical for me. I tend to lean toward escapism for my reading list, thinking that I get my fill of reality from the actual real world of day to day life.

Which is to say, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel reading Daddy Issues.

But even as it’s out of my usual area, I burned through McEwen’s latest in just a few days, which is not something I often manage anymore. The life of the characters he’s created is full of grit and hard questions that may not have any good answers, which is honestly about as true to life as one can get.

Somehow, McEwen manages to craft a main character, Wagner Sibenthaler, in whom I feel both a sense of kinship with yet also a revulsion for. In his attempt to provide for and protect his family — while faced with all the hard choices that modern society throws at us — a simplicity of world view mixed with a kind of subtle selfishness leads him to overlook the fact that his thoughts and actions actually prove to accomplish the opposite.

A fast, compelling read, Daddy Issues is a blue-collar cautionary tale for modern times, a Gatsby for the rest of us.

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I hope all your Mondays rock!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my manuscript before the Muse gets all pissy.


2 thoughts on “A quick warning and a tale of two books

  1. I read The Great Gatsby in high school, and my reaction was the same … Meh. It discouraged me when it came to more Fitzgerald… Maybe I should revisit him now. I have two or three others of his, if I can find them. (I will see the movie, tho, as Leo is playing the lead and I’m still waiting for the Oscar he deserves!)


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