Another 5 star review of my novel GASSED: a tale of the war to end all wars

Perhaps the most damning remark one could issue about a contemporary novel is to label it “old-fashioned.” However, in her new work, Gassed, a story about the fortunes of a WWI infantryman fighting for his life in the trenches, followed by an equally difficult struggle to heal upon being shipped home blinded and burned by Yellow Cross, Carley Eason Evans has given a startling vibrancy to the idea of being old-fashioned. Writing in the hullabaloo of 2017 she has managed to bring to life a distant era while simultaneously creating a story with the feel and cadence of a work that was composed in the earlier era by someone like Edith Wharton. War is hell, as we all are aware, and when shells are bursting all about them soldiers turn the air purple with curses that edit out none of the words forbidden in polite company. However, in novels like All Quiet on the Western Front such words do not appear. Indeed, it was Norman Mailer in The Naked and the Dead who pushed the boundaries by the then daring ploy of allowing his soldiers to say “fug” as a substitute for a word we all know very well. All too soon no word was taboo.

However, without any diminishment of the horrors of warfare Ms. Evans has placed us shoulder to shoulder with embattled men who utter nothing stronger than “Bloody hell!” as friends are smashed to bits by artillery and grenades. By using the “accepted language” of an earlier time I find she keeps us more deeply immersed in the story than if she had “modernized” the battle talk. Her work is as “old-fashioned” as that of Erich Maria Remarque.

With her hero assigned to a North Carolina sanatorium to heal his burned body and recover his sight, the second half of the book is a gentle, uplifting love story laced with all the expected restraint faced by all but the most sexually aggressive young Americans of that historical period. Immersed as we are in the libidinous sexual games played in contemporary TV and movie dramas, those seeking a bit of relief are sure to find comfort in the lovely, rhythmically paced romance that blossoms like a blood red rose between the wounded soldier and a lovely girl who is fighting to recover her own life from the “white plague.” Readers may well hear violins softly playing in the background as the lovers and their co-conspirators clear all obstacles that stand ready to thwart romance.

The novel also is graced with numbers of “flashback” scenes watching the lovers-to-be grow from childhood into full-blooded young Americans of the 1917 era where their individual stories marry beatifically.

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My bathroom reading

I never understood why people read in the bathroom although I know they do. Recently, I’ve been grabbing my own novel, AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL and randomly reading parts of it while sitting on the toilet. Yes, very graphic — I know! I know!

What I’ve found is wherever I turn in the book, I enjoy it.

Biased? Probably. Yet, I have some distance from the work now and it’s comforting to know I like it, too.

Journey In the Mind of A Madman, a review of AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL

By J. Bickley on March 21, 2015

How does the mind of a serial killer work? Max Peterson gets a frightening glimpse of it as he interviews notorious killer, Richard Mock, who has renamed himself David Stone.

What I like about As From A Talented Animal is the ambiguity of the “killer.” The book is presented from the perspective of three different people, the journalist Max Peterson, the alleged killer Richard Mock/David Stone, and the prison guard Felix.

As Max interviews and learns more about Mock/Stone, the tale gets more chilling. For one thing, there is much question about whether Stone even committed the crimes. You see, he has confessed to 30 killings over a number of years. He has been convicted of eight of them, and is serving a sentence in a mental institution. The reason he was only convicted of eight of the murders is that his confession didn’t match up well enough with the other 22.

The problem is that he sporadically announces that he never killed anyone. But who is claiming that? Stone or Mock? He claims (along with the psychologist), that Stone is just a pseudonym, made up by Mock. But Max Person swears that he can tell which one he is talking to by “something in the eyes.” At one point, Max is pretty well convinced that Stone is telling the truth when he says that he never killed anyone. As the reader, I’m never quite sure.

The book is a gripping journey through the mind of a madman. Did he kill or not? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

“The first chapter intrigued me.”

Another reader of mine told me on Friday that she’d gotten through the first chapter of AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL and was intrigued by it. She said, “Your novels keep getting better and better.”

“Oh,” I said, “you’re liking this one –.”

“Yes,” she said, “I’m liking it a lot.”

“I liked it. You surprised me.”

My friend who purchased GANI & SEAN last Saturday morning told me at breakfast this morning — one week later — that “Yes, I liked GANI & SEAN.” Then she smiled and said, “You surprised me there at the end.”

“Oh,” I said, “you didn’t see that coming?”

“No,” she replied. “No, no; I didn’t.” And she grinned.

“Oh, that’s great,” I said. I added, “I think you’ll like the sequel even more.”

And we went back to our coffee.

Response to A Writer’s Path

Well, of course, I can’t find the original post (I’m almost certain it was entitled “HOW NOT TO PROMOTE YOUR NOVEL” or something close to that) on A WRITER’S PATH — why not a search box? At any rate, the post was a rant against self-absorbed, self-centered writers who wish to promote their novel on social media. I recognized myself in this post — yes, I don’t particularly like to read blogs; yes, I know there are thousands upon thousands of novels published each year; yes, I know few people are interested in discovering an unknown writer; yes, I know I should read other writers’ novels; yes, I know I can be annoying when I post about my latest work, etcetera.

I stop here to ask — what novelist is not self-centered?

After all, a novelist — one who actually sits down and writes a 50,000 plus manuscript — is alone most of the time. A novelist — one who creates another world filled with imaginary persons doing imaginary things with each other — is completely absorbed in his or her creation. A novelist — one who writes multiple stories over many years — has little time for much else (especially if writing these novels brings no or only little money to their bank accounts) other than writing and the work that pays the bills.

As for reading other novelists — I don’t have time for that anymore. I used to read. In fact, as a young person, you would not have seen me without my nose stuck in the pages of a real book. I read all the time. In fact, if I didn’t write now most of my time, I’d still be reading.

Presently, I keep writing while I continue to share my work with others. I don’t write for myself (like I did as an adolescent in angst). Instead I write for others — for my very small fan base, which I am trying to establish on my own, without much help from anyone else — except them.

Thanks, little fan base! Thanks.