Raven Book Store in Lawrence, KS is one of the most successful, respected, independent bookstores in this region. I am so delight that after meeting with its owner, Heidi Raak, she has decided to carry three of my titles.
Book Number 1 Crazy About You is my most popular novel. It's a coming-of-age story and so much more. I really did grow up on the grounds of Larned State Hospital because my father was the dentist for that mental hospital and the state provided us free housing. Here is one Amazon five-star review:
By Mark Shoup
If the folks over at the New York Times Review of Books are looking for fresh novels by other than established writers or well-connected new ones, they should dust off their keyboards and surf over to Amazon, where they'll find an astonishing new novel by Randy Attwood.
Crazy About You is set in the most unlikely of places, in and around a state mental institution in west central Kansas. Attwood's protagonist, a high school student nearing the end of his junior year, is at once naïve and wise beyond his age. These qualities, combined with growing up on the "asylum" where is father works, have created within him a gut-wrenching combination of empathy and Everyman's selfishness that shape him forever and come to a head during one wildly dramatic week when his father and estranged mother are out of town.
Given the protagonist's years, one might dismiss this as a coming-of-age story. It is not. Less a psychological thriller than a psychiatric adventure, the novel fearlessly reveals ways in which human beings face their choices and emotions and those of others -- from loyalty and deceit to cruelty, despair, and joy -- things we all sometimes learn to deal with but never totally control. It is at once gripping, brutal, and tender.
Crazy About You defies categorization, but suffice to say that those looking for pure excitement and good story telling will not be disappointed. Nor will those who thrive on the deeper layers of psychological tension. Although the novel often deals with forces out of the protagonist's control, it also tackles tough moral choices that indelibly shape our lives, all within the context of a fantastical drama that will leave the reader musing for days. But ultimately, this is a story about absolution. If you have not laughed out loud often and shed a few tears by the end, you'd better see a shrink.
(I donate $1 of every sale of Crazy About You to Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence because those good folks work the suicide prevention hotline for this part of the country.)
Book Number 2 Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All
Set in that turbulent spring of 1970 in Lawrence.
Another five star Amazon review:
By Terry Needham
If you were alive during the late 1960s, then you will totally relate to this story. If you were not alive then, chances are pretty good you have heard about the 60s all your life, most likely from your own parents. Well, here is your chance to immerse yourself into the world of the late 1960s, on one of the most beautiful and respected college campuses in the nation--the Kansas University at Lawrence, Kansas. Yet this story is not unique to KU, but very typical of the social revolution that took the youth of this country, and around the world, to challenge and defy the "man" . . . government of all forms. As a heady blend of drugs, acid, jazz, rock & roll, sex, the draft, Vietnam, and many other issues compelled them into the ubiquitous search for "it" . . . whatever "it" was . . . as well as the search for the "self" too--whatever that is. Or, long-hair hippies "just doing their thing" --whatever that is, yet, as one character says, "I really think something new is going on. Maybe it's a return to good old American pragmatism, utilitarianism and individuality. That's what `do your own thing' really means." And another character, Dan, commented, "You know, from the coalescence of these kinds of diverse elements . . . revolutionary progress is made." This was a transformative time that left a lasting mark globally that is still being felt to this day. The author recreates this era faithfully, with the sensitivity and insights available only to someone who was there. Yet, even more, woven within the chaos and pandemonium brewing on the campus is a tender love affair that emerges at the very heart and core of this story . . . and it takes you places you do not expect, nor could even imagine. This is the third book by this author that I have read. Each was very unique and entertaining, as well as thought provoking in a way that stayed with you for days after reading. Plus, each book by Attwood has shared one common thread--his gift for creating a "cast" of diverse and interesting characters, and then weaves their lives together in a plausible, and realistic series of events, toward the most unpredictable and so often amazing outcomes. I look forward to my next read of this author's books and highly recommend you do too.
Book Number 3 The41st Sermon
Walker Percy fans, pay attention. I sent the first few chapters of this novel about a Episcopal priest at midlife and mid-faith crisis to Walker Percy and he read and sent me a not telling me to send him the rest. Send him the rest I did and waited and waited. Six months later I read his obit in The Kansas City Star. Reprint of that note is in the opening pages of The 41st Sermon.
Here's a review from Katy Sozaeva, a top 500 Amazon reviewer:
Father Christopher Talley, an Episcopalian priest, spends a week each year at a resort in the Ozarks. This gives him a chance to escape the constraints of his life as a minister - to fish, to drink, and to spend some time with a woman other than his wife. He also writes his sermons for the coming year. This year, while at the resort, he runs across one of his parishioners, the lovely Molly, who says she is thinking of divorcing her husband and has come to the resort to think about things. That isn't why she is there, of course - but she's bored and decides to seduce her handsome pastor.
This was a strange story - Randy asked if I could assign a genre to it, but honestly, I can't think of any genre it fits into neatly. There is a bit of mild erotica, there are definitely lots of different themes - finding yourself, redemption, finding faith, learning what life is all about - but none that relates itself to a specific genre other than general fiction. I really liked the book, though - it had a lot of good things to say, and I thought the story was one in which many people could find enjoyment, once they get past feeling shocked about some of the issues that come up. I warn that you need to be open-minded about the story, but if you are willing to do so, you should find something in here to love.