Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Experiential Review, on "Be Now Buddy What"

As an indie author, marketing has been like waking up in a dark, unfamiliar place, and needing to go to the bathroom: I have an pressing urge to get something out, but I have no idea where I am, or where I need to go to get relief. And since I knew that it was easy to find lots of crap on the internet, it seemed the logical place to start looking.

I soon found places where other indie authors congregate, and set about learning from the "veterans" among them what I should be doing. What particularly excited me was the idea of the review exchange. The writer half of me was all like, "You mean, I'll get some essential marketing while finally becoming part of the writing community I've been craving to belong to since my first short story was published," and then the reader half of me was like, "Dude, they're gonna give us free books man!"

So I set about finding writers that wrote literature with humor and/or satire, because I felt that if they enjoyed writing that, they would probably enjoy reading my humorous/satiric literature. The first author I found willing to trade works was Dan Spencer, and so his "Be Now Buddy What" became my first indie swap read.

While I have read plenty of articles, and a few short stories in electronic format, "Buddy" was the first novel I read solely on a computer (I don't own any fancy e-reader yet). I just read it in a PDF format, and I must say I enjoyed being able to scroll through pages as I read.

And now, without further ado, my review of, "Be Now Buddy What":

The word media is derived from the Latin word for medium. “Be Now Buddy What” is a satire of how our internet-age media fails to keep to an unbiased, factual medium, driving stories toward the edges of sensationalism. Through ironic takes on Greek myths, a naked man mysteriously survives what becomes a fall to innocence; unscathed, but amnesiac, the falling man sets out to discover who he is under the borrowed name of Buddy What. The reporter who haplessly got the exclusive to Buddy’s fall serves as travel companion, concerned friend, and nameless third-person narrator of this literary mockumentary.

When Buddy’s search for identity proves fruitless and disheartening he disappears – and undergoes what can be described as a sea-change on land, working in an almond orchard. Buddy stops focusing on who he was, believing that the better course is to concentrate on who he is. Here again, the Greek symbolism of almonds promising that upcoming travels will be filled with prosperity take several ironic turns, when Buddy and our narrator set off to share this message with whoever will listen.

Skewering internet bloggers, investigative reporters, megachurch preachers, and other proponents of perverting media communication in the digital age for their own narrowly biased ends, Spencer deftly provides laugh out loud moments next to frustratingly true observations of our informational consumerism. Throughout I was reminded of a quote from Martin Luther King Jr, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity;” Spencer’s America exemplifies this fear realized.

Spencer sets up a lot of encounters for Buddy that augment his message – some more interesting and effective than others. Each chapter begins with an aphorism of Buddy’s that hints at the themes and ideas in the following chapter; much of Buddy’s true charm and insight into his character comes out in these quotes – for the first quarter of the novel this is the way we get insights into his character – and many times I was motivated to read through a slower vignette so that I could get to the next of Buddy’s clever sayings.

Altogether “Be Now Buddy What” is a novel of ideas told with bite and laughter. If you are blessed to have an inquiring mind and a sense of humor, I recommend you buy it and read it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Experiencial Review, On "Size Matters Not"

I have enjoyed Warwick Davis' acting since Return of the Jedi, and the two made-for-TV Ewok movies, but didn't know who he was until Willow. This was before the days of the Internet Movie Database, where I could easily look up every scrap of acting ever put on a recordable media. I saw Willow twice in the theaters - which, according to the IMDB, was released in 1988, making me 11 or 12 at the time; I enjoyed it enough that I even read the novelization (and wasn't so ashamed at reading Wayland Drew's book that I haven't listed it on my Goodreads Read List); when the film came to HBO I taped it, and would say I've watched it at least a dozen times. It was later when watching the credits to Return of the Jedi (for that was how you learned who acted in a film back in the day) that I found that Davis played the irascible young Ewok Wicket (personal geek trivia: recently while playing Draw Something with Mrs. Karaczewski, I drew a respectable looking Ewok, with a poorly drawn exploding Death Star II in the sky, with the name "Wicket" written to the side. It seemed like I'd made it too easy by adding the Wicket; after two days Mrs. Karaczewski needed some additional verbal clues before managing a guess, and gave me quite the look of incredulity about the Wicket clue).

I didn't see him in anything after Willow until Phantom Menace - I recognized him in the Leprechaun ads, but didn't see that until much later - and especially loved seeing his progression through each of the Harry Potter films.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I found a gap in my audiobook reading. I had just finished a string of series (The Dark Tower, then the Millennium Trilogy, then the Hunger Games Trilogy), had started looking into some noir detective novels, and didn't think that "The Postman Always Rings Twice"'s 3 discs would last until any of my holds came in, so I began trolling the library's audiobook stacks. I browsed through the whole U of shelves, to the autobiographies at the very end opposite to where I had started, where the title "Size Matters Not" leaped out, with "by Warwick Davis" following. I snatched it up, drawn to it in an inexpressibly instinctive way: I hadn't known it existed, but finding it held the joy as if I had been looking for it for years and had finally found it.

"Size Matters Not" is an autobiography of actor and little person Warwick Davis. The book follows his childhood up through 2010. Cast in "Return of the Jedi" at eleven, Davis' story is that of a child actor who grows up on movie sets and in a small English town.

I loved Davis' humorous tone throughout; it was obvious that he enjoyed writing his story, delighting in puns and tongue-in-cheek wordplay, which created an easy and engaging read. He presents his success in the acting profession as a mix of privilege, luck, and hard work - and by doing so, presents himself as a wonderful person to be around. He approaches the challenges and frustrations of being a little person (3'6") in a world designed for taller people with humor and cleverness.

Even when he encounters great tragedy in his family life, he expresses himself with grace and humility - and engendered such empathy in this reader by his simple eloquence that I had to pause the recording. I was in my classroom after school, listening while I entered grades, and I had to stop and breathe through my eyes misting up; I remember putting my hands over my eyes, as if to shut everything out for a while, as I couldn't help imagining how it would be to live through that ordeal. This section will hit parents especially hard.

Not often that a book makes me laugh out loud, and nearly cry. Can't wait for volume 2.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Republished Ho!

After dusting off my Art Degree to design the cover, I have just published a collection of my previously published writings. "My Governor's House & other stories" collects six stories and an essay, several of which are out-of-print (or whatever the term is for a story that was published by an online e-zine that apparently doesn't exist anymore: out-of-net? detached-from-the-web?).

My vision for the book is guided by the evolutionary nature of ebooks (see the introduction to Mark Coker's book "The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success" for an excellent description of this potential) as new stories get published and rights revert back to me, I will add them to the book. I'm also considering a special edition later - but I'm not going to release any details about that yet.

As a thank you for visiting this blog, you can download it for free through the end of the year! Just enter WH87A at checkout for 100% off!

Sample and purchase it here: