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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Holy Grail: A Reader Who Really Connects With Your Books

I cannot adequately express how gratifying it is to find a reader who really connects with one's work, especially when you don't know them from Adam. Terry Needham is from Kansas City, but now lives in Illinois. I can't remember how he encountered my fiction, but encounter my titles he did, Racing through them he is. And in paperback! I hope Terry doesn't mind, but I thought I'd group here the reviews he's done to date.

A Wickedly Funny and Engaging Read!
SPILL is much like a game of POOL, you rack the balls carefully, line up the cue ball carefully, then smack those balls by ramming the pool cue with furious intent-- into the racked triangle of pool balls--to slam at least one ball into a pocket, any pocket so you can continue shooting! Alas, the balls ricochet off each other, the cushions, and the result is always a series of unintended consequences, revealing that POOL, as in life, and this hilarious book--SPILL is "racked" (pun intended) with unpredictable consequences.

The down and out protagonist imagines a clever fantasy wherein he enters a hopeless political primary to just shake things up a bit, setting in motion a series of unintended, but intriguing, enlightening, and revealing consequences . . . in a very humorous context, out of which "spills" an amazing array of characters (yes, pun intended again, sorry!). These colorful and genuine characters, as in the first break of those "racked" pool balls, begin crashing about the story--each pursuing their own intentions, while generating a wickedly funny and revealing series of unintended outcomes. This delicious story unfolds at a steady pace and the unpredictable characters are so real, as are their crazy intentions which yield amazing, yet, rarely intended outcomes--that it keeps the reader fully engaged while flipping those pages.

This great book would make a wonderful movie! I cannot remember the last time I had so much fun reading a book, or found myself longing for a second serving...sequel...if you please, Mr. Attwood?

Living with the Sane and Insane
CRAZY ABOUT YOU is the second book by Randy Attwood I have read, and my admiration for his writing skills grows with each page as I read. This story takes the reader for a trip into the strange space between the sane and insane--a mist-blurred world full of angst, mystery, surprises, plus bizarre and unpredictable behavior . . . with an array of characters that are so well developed your heart reaches out to them. Well, most of them, but there is much more. An evil presence drives the story into even darker places that you do not expect, at a pace that turns the pages as fast as you can read. This is an engaging and compelling coming of age tale that will haunt the reader for days, and leave you wishing for more. Yet, it is also satisfying and fully resolved in a way that touches your heart. The main character, Brad, living in the early 1960s world of a Kansas mental institution ponders at one moment--"You can't summarize what you are, only what you've done, which is why so many of us feel so empty--what we've done is never even close to what we are." Well, based on what Randy Attwood has done, I can summarize that he is a great author with a unique gift and exceptional talent for story telling. You will agree.

A heartrending love story in the turbulent late 1960s
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.

A Timely...Thoughtful...and Enthralling Read!
Ironically, I read RABBLETOWN the week between Good Friday and Easter--a period of time that is clearly at the very core of the Christian faith. The book projected the reader into a future world of Evangelical Fundamentalism morphed into a neo-Fascist world government. Perhaps actually a dream scenario for those who adhere to that extreme viewpoint. Yet, clearly a nightmare for the faithful masses. The author retraces an all too familiar tale, yet in a style and context that holds the reader and keeps the pages turning. One is left in the grasp, along with the well-defined characters of this tale . . . of those sanctimonious hypocrites who use religion to gain power, wealth, influence and control over others who believe in them, as a matter of simple "faith". This is a somber and important reminder that faith in your God does not require absolute faith in those who say they speak for God, or God speaks through them. They must be judged by what they do and not what they say. This book is a thoughtful and important reflection on issues that have influenced human society since the beginning. It offers a reminder of lessons that each generation seems destined to learn and re-learn, over and over again . . . before it is too late. Therefore, this engaging book is highly recommended to anyone who wonders . . . about faith, the future . . . and everything else.

Ethereal...Amazing...Beckoning you to read on!
A haunting, compelling and memorable collection of four short stories from Randy Attwood, a master weaver of tales that make you ache for more.

One More Victim--a tale of innocence lost and timeless love, woven into the fabric of ironic connections and overlapping lives with unpredictable and tragic consequences. A haunting, emotional, moving and memorable love story.

The Saltness of Time--a spooky tale in the ethereal atmosphere of a Kansas blizzard unfolds as a stranger reveals a tale to four stranded college students. The story time travels a century into the past of tortured and guilt-ridden lives, seeking resolution and redemption.

Blue Kansas Sky--A glimpse inside the mind of adolescent boys in a pool hall of a small town where a sudden revelation of a truthful insight is revealed--just a moment too late.

Innocent Passage--Another tale of innocence lost, as two adventurous boys discover tragic hidden secrets and their own true nature . . . that boys will be boys.

Each of these stories share the common element of being set in Kansas, as Attwood reveals his roots, and his wonderful ability to weave a compelling tale. Kansas is not a cozy place. Nor a comfortable place to hide from life . . . No, not from the inundating Flint Hills to the quiet prairie, where the spacious sky meets the horizon to merge into a blurred edge of blowing dust, or gathering storm clouds. Kansas is so vast, so spacious, that you realize your terrifying insignificance . . . a mere speck of a soul in the vastness of ancient seas . . . now frozen in time . . . a place of lethal weather extremes and lonely roads that disappear in the distance . . .  beckoning you to come . . . explore me--I will amaze you.

Terry, too, is an author and also a poet. Check out his author's page on Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. OH, wow, awesome! So glad another person has seen the light!