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.

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