The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories by David Joseph is a collection of fourteen short fiction stories that are set in cities in Spain and Portugal. The stories feature a variety of people, old and young, tourists, natives, and immigrants and range from 6-20 pages in length. Although the stories are about everyday life, special or tragic moments the characters experience are the true focus of the narrative. Several themes are used in multiple stories including death and loss, older characters watching the lives of young people and remembering when they were that age themselves, and being alone but not felling lonely.
This book had an interesting variety of stories that I enjoyed reading. The short stories were quick to get through, which made the book a fast read overall. I liked that I could read several stories in one sitting. Although some of the stories had similar themes, they did not seem repetitive because the characters were so varied. While I enjoyed the stories I felt that some of them were character driven stories, focusing on the characters routines, interactions and relationships, where I wanted to see a bit more focus on plot development.
Some of the stories were told in the first person point of view, while others were in third person, and several stories featured unnamed characters, often the narrator. I enjoyed reading the details of the characters lives and the descriptions of Spanish and Portuguese cities, landmarks, and coastlines; which to me is an exotic culture. I liked that the first story and last story both had old men in boats, which created a kind of symmetry to the book as a whole, however I didn’t prefer the narrative jump back and forth between old men rowing boats and Picasso’s painting Guernica. This made it feel a bit disjointed and disrupted the overall smooth flow of the story. Many of the stories did not end happily or were focused on past tragedies such as death, suicide, and abortion. But I felt that this was true to life, where happy endings are not always normal, and this kept the stories grounded rather than fanciful.
The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories is a thought-provoking collection of emotionally resonant stories that explore life in various seemingly prosaic moments that cumulatively have a profound impact on the reader.
Pages: 142 | ASIN: B08T1Q4TPM
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Nantucket Summer follows Greg Williamson, a seventy-one year old man, who has recently lost his wife. He decides to visit his younger sister in Clearwater Florida. While he is packing for the trip, he comes across a box filled with some items from his past and he remembers the summer he spent on Nantucket Island when he was a young man in 1946, before he started attending Purdue University. During that summer, he worked as a night watchman at a hotel where he meets a woman named Sydney MacKluskie. They fall in love, but ultimately part ways and lead different lives, until a chance encounter in a hospital. Was it Sydney that saves Greg’s life in the hospital? Greg must find out.
Author Gerard Shirar provides readers with an impassioned romance story following two intriguing characters that are easy to empathize with. I found the author’s writing style engaging and the story kept my interest all the way to the end. This sentimental novel reads very much like a real-life account, and there were times when I forgot that I was reading a fictional story. I liked the setting of the holiday atmosphere at the beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the descriptions of the quaint shops and cottages in the villages on Nantucket Island. The author has a knack for creating a scene and letting the readers live in it. The same is true for the historical time period the novel is placed in. The story always felt authentic and realistic, keeping the story grounded and focused on the emotional obstacles Greg faces. A small portion of the book takes place during Greg’s time fighting in the Korean War, and this section of the story makes a striking contrast to the carefree days Greg spent while working in Nantucket.
This is a character driven story that successfully pulls you along with emotionally charged plot developments that rely on your connection to the characters. I was not a fan of Sydney’s character when she was first introduced, but learning about the tragedy in her past helped me to understand her actions and attitude.
Nantucket Summer is a historical romance novel filled with wonderfully detailed observations and characters that you will love following.
Pages: 170 | ASIN: B0791M6Q2Y
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In Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis, Philip E. Barrington tells us the story of Grant, a man that experienced various interesting and intriguing things during his life. The book serves as Grant’s diary, through which he tells the reader his thoughts and the many life changing events that he experienced since he was a young boy.
Grant’s life is far from boring. In the book we follow him as he travels around different cities and countries, trying to make something of his life. He meets intriguing new people all the time, some of them become friends and helped him grow, some of them become terrible enemies that almost succeeded in ruining his life. Grant endures many betrayals, yet never gives up, always looking to find something better for himself to enjoy life to the fullest. Family, friendship, love, travel and the search of a career, are aspects that are deeply involved in most people’s lives and that are explored and shown in this book through Grant’s riveting life.
It was interesting following the different events that Grant had to go through in his life, there are so many things that are talked about in the book. Relationships, health issues, problems with the police and the law, corruption and family life. The author shares the many adventures that Grant had that would change him forever, from meeting new people to traveling to new places to discovering secrets of the universe, a set of fascinating events that allowed Grant Davis to find his life purpose.
I enjoyed reading about Grant’s story and finding out gradually the varying life changing events that he went through where he met interesting, odd and even threatening people that made him explore new things all the time: his life was truly riveting. However, I wanted these things to be explored more, and explained further, in the book. The book reads like a diary, which means that we don’t get too many details about the events and the people that were described in the book. Nevertheless, the book was still enjoyable and it was stimulating reading. In particular, I was intrigued by the themes that were explored near the end of the book, a series of mystical, soul-searching events that Grant came in contact with to possibly change his future, and other people’s futures, for the better.
Is it fully fiction or are there real life events mixed in the story? Who knows, it is up to the reader to figure out how much is fictional and how much is the author’s real story, so if you want to try to find out, you must read the book first. Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis is an interesting and easy read that illustrates the good and the bad that can be found all the time in every person’s life path.
Pages: 241 | ASIN: B08VKSQT36
The Red Sheep does a fantastic job of showcasing the lives of ordinary people. Why was this an important aspect of this novel for you?
Everyone has a story to share. Everyday stories are stories everyday people can relate to. By sharing the lives of the “ordinary”, I planned to connect with ordinary people and help them to become part of the story.
What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
Allowing Jessica to be Jessica as a young child, a teenager and an adult was a challenge. It was important to portray Jessica as a young child in a way relevant to an adult reader, as well as adopt traits common to her other phases of life without losing who she was. While she interacts with her grandparents in a typically childish way, I intended those interactions to be insightful to readers of all ages. Her interactions as a teenager and then, as an adult are more relatable to the reader.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I wanted to explore the concept of family in contemporary society and how the complexities of a person’s past do not always relate to their present.
I also wanted to explore the concept of aging and death and the theological beliefs that surround it. As well I wanted to explore this concept through the eyes of a child. Most of us deal with death and loss as adults. The simplicity of childhood can bring out an even more complex set of emotions around such an event.
The other theme was that of relationships: the bond between mother and daughter; the support between husband and wife; the connection between partners in their later stages of life.
Do you have future plans to write books in other genres?
I have several projects underway which involve historical adventure fiction, young adult adventure and middle grade fiction.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, contemporary fiction, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, Paul Richardson, read, reader, reading, story, The Red Sheep, urban fantasy, writer, writing
The Red Sheep is a beautiful story of love, belonging, and found family. Jessica knows she is different, her flaming hair and freckles. No one else in her family has these traits but she shares a lot of traits with her beloved Pop. Pop and Nan are wise, lovely grandparents but they will not be around forever. Jessica has many questions to answer and many secrets to uncover, but they may not be easy to swallow and some may come with a cost. Nonetheless, Jessica is determined to find answers and is willing to spend her whole life searching.
The Red Sheep does a great job of humanizing and bringing to life it characters. One of the most enjoyable aspects about the cast of characters was their breathtaking diversity and inclusivity. It is so refreshing to have a deep, engaging story with characters that are diverse but not tokens. The Red Sheep includes characters of many faiths, races, and even includes neuro-divergent and LGBTQIA+ characters. The book emphasizes acceptance and love of all people which is part of what makes it so touching. Acceptance and unconditional love seem to be some of the main messages of the book and it clearly shows. These messages raise great questions and really make the reader think about what it means to be family, believe in others, or stand up for what is right.
The Red Sheep is wonderfully written and engaging. It is intriguing right from the beginning and twists the readers emotions completely into knots. Despite the book not containing a lot of action, it is still gripping because of the inherent drama. Richardson writes The Red Sheep with love and care, going right for the reader’s heart, capturing it and keeping it close. Jessica and her family’s story move the heart and soul deeply. Similarly, the dialogue is free flowing and natural. Particularly the easygoing banter and teasing that Pop and Nan engage in.
This story was an inspiring and poignant read that is sure to touch the hearts and minds of many readers. The lyrical reading combined with the vivid and inclusive characterization make this novel a delight to read. It brings laughter and perhaps some tears simultaneously, making this a remarkable literary journey.
Pages: 329 | ASIN: B08LN11JGC
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Mann is a self-proclaimed genius at dealing drugs and is, himself, a heavy user. Mann’s life is filled with making deals, and there’s not one profession that’s not familiar with this product. Mann has seen and done it all and continues to live every day of his life on the edge not knowing what lies around the next corner. From drug distribution to fighting for his life, Mann manages to escape one harrowing situation after another. There is no calm in Mann’s life; there is no down time. And Mann wouldn’t have it any other way.
One Way In, No Way Out is the gripping action adventure story by Malcolm Boyd that tells the story of Mann Walker and his overabundance of near-misses and close calls. Mann has spent the better part of his life finding his way into and out of one sticky situation after another. The difference between Mann and any other man is that he chooses this life, time and time again–he’s addicted to the thrill it brings.
Malcolm Boyd has the proverbial way with words. From the opening line by main character, Mann Walker, Boyd hooks readers and invests them in Mann’s sordid life. I am a huge fan of first-person narratives, and Boyd more than delivered with One Way In, No Way Out. Watching the events unfold through Mann’s eyes is a fascinating way to witness the plot of this story. His life is so involved, so complicated–the only way to truly understand and relate to his character is through the personal, first-person perspective.
It’s worth noting that some action/adventure fans might be put off a bit by the exchanges between characters. Given the intense subject matter, there is some profanity in Boyd’s work. Though somewhat rough, the dialogue is integral to the plot.
I recommend One Way In, No Way Out to any action and adventure fan looking for a more down-to-earth novel. Boyd’s characters are gritty, real, and, in their own way, endearing. Mann Walker’s tale is one not to be taken lightly. Boyd takes readers on a journey that both amaze and sadden them, pulling them into the rawness of his characters’ lives.
Pages: 379 | ASIN: B01N37P508
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How Ferris Wolfe Got Fired follows a corporate employee whose star is rising as the company crumbles amid sabotage. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I am a retired office worker. Most of the characters in Ferris Wolfe are inspired by real people I have worked with throughout my life. Their story represents a revenge fantasy of many dedicated employees who are oppressed by their own co-workers. The total disconnect between senior managers’ impression of their organization and the realities on the ground is also quite the norm and a phenomenon worth exploring.
Ferris Wolfe is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Wolfe is typical of many successful executives – his interest is in advancing himself, and it does not extend much further than that. Wolfe also suffers from insecurity in the shadow of his more successful younger brother. These flaws blind him to the rot that has engulfed his company and render him helpless when calamity ultimately strikes.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
First and foremost I wanted to present a realistic office populated with real people. I find Hollywood’s stereotypes of office workers as either pathetic losers or high-flying schemers in designer suits to be stale and insulting. Most office workers simply run the gamut of ordinary folk and our stories are rarely told in fiction. I also wanted to introduce a fantasy with a hint of magic that would celebrate the people who manage to keep things running despite the obstacles and abuse that too often arise in any workplace. Finally I hoped to create a different, more natural approach to office humor. There are more than enough real human foibles in office life to get a good laugh without resorting to the demeaning stereotypes that have prevailed for too long.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
This is still to-be-decided at this time.
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Tumbleweed and Dreams follows a man who starts over in Texas and finds a more rewarding life than he had expected to find in a small dusty town. What made you write a story about this topic? Anything pulled from your life experiences?
I worked for several years at the university in Alpine, but it wasn’t until I took a couple-year break from life in IT that I was really able to immerse myself in the cultural diversity of this remote part of Texas. I was, for a time, first a volunteer and later the director of the county food panty and became a close friend of the previous director. The experience gave me personal connections to both the generous people (of their time and money) who supported the work and the clients who benefited from that generosity. On a personal level, I found living in the desert very nurturing. Work took me away for a number of years, but we plan to return there to live in 2021. Writing the trilogy sealed that decision as we found ourselves quite homesick.
If Hollywood came knocking what actors and actress’s do you picture playing the leading roles?
None come to mind though I can see Jane Lynch (coach on Glee) making a pretty convincing Sallie. I would hope for a very strong casting director who really “got” the book to find relative unknowns well-suited to the peculiarities of each character. Particularly, in the case of Sallie, Billy and Ernesto, the match of physique and personality is integral to defining their character as well as the musical talents needed for Jaime, Billy and Ernesto.
You always write such grounded and authentic characters. Were you able to relate to your characters while writing them?
I’m glad you perceive them in this way. When I wrote, “Stories for Tyler,” I found it surprisingly easy to relate to very ancient characters and to try to tell their story in a fresh way. For each of the novels, the characters become familiar companions. I just try to get out of the way and let the sum of their experience, charms and quirks tell the story.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have completed the other two books in the trilogy—“Night Air Descending” and “Seeds in the Desert Wind.” Right now, I am working with my friends on the final edits. “Night Air” will be released in March and “Seeds” about a month or so later.
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