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There Are No Heroes or Villains

Michael Reed Author Interview

Michael Reed Author Interview

Songs from Richmond Avenue is a novel about characters that could be found in any town. The main character is a journalist that knows all the questionable characters that hang out on Richmond Avenue in Houston. Why was this an important book for you to write? 

I felt like it was important that if I was going to write a book at some point in my life, I get on with it. Since the age of about 20 years old, back when I was a journalism student, I had always just assumed I’d get around to writing a book. I guess the older I got the more not writing a book bothered me.

Fortunately, a few years ago, I became unemployed for about eight months. I say fortunately because that’s when the book started taking shape. I was drawing unemployment after a publication I worked for went belly up. I looked for work online in the morning and when that got boring, which happened pretty quickly most days, I started writing a couple of short stories based loosely on some funny things I’d witnessed riding metro buses or walking through my neighborhood. One morning I stuck a couple of these short stories together and decided to have them come from the voice of a single, first-person narrator. Then I decided to have the narrator go to a bar. That is the essence of the book. While it didn’t take a long time to actually write, there was fairly long span of time between when I started and completed it, because I set it aside when I got another job. Maybe there’s a lesson in that, but I hope not.

What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

That’s a tough one since I really didn’t approach Songs From Richmond Avenue with any thoughts of trying to espouse any particular point of view. This isn’t really a moralizing kind of book that takes sides among its characters or proclaims one vantage point in a conflict is right and the other one is wrong. I think the moral perspective might be not to be judgmental of others. There are no heroes or villains in the book, just people with strengths and weaknesses having good and bad moments. I think the book may share its basic moral underpinning with film noir. These characters live by their own loose moral codes and the protagonist, despite his many trials and close calls, doesn’t come away having learned much of anything from his ordeal.

How did you decide on the title of this novel?

Initially, I thought the book would be more a series of individual character vignettes, loosely held together by the fact that they all frequented a fictional dive bar called the Relix Club on Houston’s Richmond Avenue.

There was originally going to be more of a secondary plot involving a down-and-out musician who occasionally hung out at the bar. There were also bands and singers who appeared there, so I came up with Songs From Richmond Avenue, using “song” as a metaphor for each of the character’s lives. When I changed courses a bit, the book remained Songs From Richmond Avenue, primarily because I liked how it sounded and couldn’t come up with anything better.

What is the next story that you are writing and when will it be available?

It’s a book that, hopefully, will be available in about year. This will be largely dependent upon whether I write a little more frequently once baseball season is over. I’m about halfway through a story that bears some similarities to Songs From Richmond Avenue – hapless characters, drunken debauchery, bad company, worse decisions. The setting will be far less urban, but what isn’t less urban than Houston? There won’t be a first-person narration this time either. It’s had a couple of working titles, both of which are terrible, so I won’t mention them.

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Songs from Richmond Avenue

If the adage “nothing civilized ever resulted from the drinking of beer” requires further proof, one needs look no farther than down Houston’s pothole-infested Richmond Avenue. There, the blurry-eyed denizens of the Relix Club wile away the hours engaged in their two favorite activities – drinking and betting.

Until recently that was good enough for our storyteller, a journalist of questionable work ethic, who undergoes an epiphany following a bus stop meeting with pretty Michelle, a woman he declares has “skin so perfect I doubted she even had pores.”

Could she be his redemption? Maybe, but first he’d better contend with her baseball bat-wielding former beau, her nihilistic stripper roommate and the suspicious death of a friend, who fancies himself the father of Brute Generation poetry.

Mostly satire, often wildly unpredictable, the only real long shot in Songs From Richmond Avenue would be for its protagonist to put down his beer long enough to learn anything of true value.

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Songs from Richmond Avenue

Songs from Richmond Avenue

Songs from Richmond Avenue by Michael Reed is a dark novel about characters that could be found in any town. The main character is a journalist that seems to know all the questionable characters that hang out on Richmond Avenue in Houston. He meets a beautiful woman named Michelle that he becomes infatuated with from the start. Michelle could change things for the journalist, but not before he gets caught up in some seriously crazy shenanigans that include kidnapping, booze and roommates. Among everything else, you get to know some barflies who have very interesting stories and a love for alcohol and bets.

This story isn’t long, but packs quite a bit into such a small package. I can imagine this story set in any small local dive bar. There would be those regulars that have extremely colorful stories that are darkly humorous. The writing is unique and paints a descriptive image of all the characters in the book. Each one has personality and detail that many authors gloss over. His descriptions made it easy to visualize and even smell each and every one.

There will be a number of readers who will identify with the different characters and most likely sympathize with them as well. I felt as though I was getting a glimpse into someone’s real life experiences, not the work of fiction. The journalist doesn’t even have a name, yet throughout the story I didn’t even notice. I made it pretty far in before thinking, “Hey, what the heck is this guys name?”

“Songs from Richmond Avenue” could almost be called a drunks love story, as the journalist finds himself wishing for a future with Michelle. He may not exactly be a romantic character, it’s love just the same. Throw in some depressing thoughts while mixing in some humorous parts and that sums up this story.

It took me some time to really get into the story. Michael Reed has a unique way of developing his characters that takes a bit of adjusting to. Once I got farther into the story and got use to the craziness, I was in for the long haul and wasn’t bothered in the slightest. This is definitely not a light and airy read, but I think that is part of the appeal. I had to read slower than I usually would have with any other book which made me connect with the locations and situations. I honestly don’t want to tell you too much, so that you can have the same experience as I did. The antics that take place are so off the wall I wouldn’t want to ruin the fun for the next reader!

While it did pick up later, it was a bit hard to get into at first. Many readers I know would put down a book they weren’t drawn into from the beginning. While I know that a slow beginning doesn’t mean anything, that doesn’t make you not feel a bit frustrated. I would suggest anyone who enjoys dark humor and crazy drunken stories to give this book a shot.

Pages: 185 | ASIN: B01N039ZM7

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High-Functioning Alcoholism: Live It Sober

High-Functioning Alcoholism: Live It Sober4 Stars

High Functioning Alcoholism: Live it Sober by Gray Nomad is a non-fiction book on how to recognize high-functioning alcoholism in yourself or someone else. There is also a short fiction piece with the purpose of illustrating how widespread high-functioning alcoholism is within people. The piece shows anyone, of any status, can be a high-functioning alcoholic. The book also contains some tips on managing high-functioning alcoholism. Nomad stresses the importance of seeking professional help if you suspect an alcohol issue and the importance of education. Furthermore, the book provides concrete examples of high-profile people who had issues with high-functioning alcoholism.

This book is an informational introspective work. The short story produced by Nomad unquestionably opens your eyes on who could have a high-functioning alcoholism issue. The book is short, about 40 pages, and it’s all focused on education and awareness regarding the safety and hazards of consuming alcohol. What I enjoyed most about this work is that it gives examples of how to safely enjoy alcohol.

One of the more important aspects I got out of the book was the author’s mention of talking with children and teaching them about alcoholism at a young age. Teaching is a type of intervention, which is an essential part of preventing future issues. Conversations about sensitive and taboo topics like this one are crucial, which is why a book like this is great. Nomad uses their knowledge of the health science field and their personal experience to bring you in.

There are a few grammatical issues that could use some polishing. However, it does not take away from the overall message or enjoyment of the book. The book is well written and informative which left me wanting more after 40 short pages. It’s informative and interesting. However, I think more information and a more in-depth look at the case study could increase awareness on the topic. I believe it would give more potency if there were more details, especially with high profile cases and the case study.

Overall, this book was enjoyable. It is a quick, compelling read. The purpose is to “wake up” someone to the dangers of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and it does just that. There is good, solid advice on not only how to recognize the dangers of alcohol consumption but also tips on managing high-functioning alcohol issues, the importance of educating others and talking about this subject, and the importance of talking to professionals.

After reading this book I had to reflect on my own life to see if I was a high functioning alcoholic! I did have a glass of wine last night. Oh no! (You’ll be happy to know that I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not. Thanks Gray Nomad!)

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to know more about alcoholism. As a person who is concerned with people’s health, this is a good read. It gives you a glance into the world of alcohol abuse and how it is more pervasive than one might think. Nomad makes a significant contribution to health services and humanity.

Pages: 39 | ASIN: B01N95RT4E

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TAURUS, TAURUS, TAURUS

Taurus, Taurus, Taurus: Genetic Modification Held for Ransom3 StarsA sterilization syrum is being inserted into genetically modified super bulls, threatening to hurt the profits of the beef industry. Semi-retired, former Special Forces bad-ass Joe Garner is hired by a private security firm to track down the culprits, a cell of Islamic terrorists, and to take them out by whatever means necessary. Joe and his crew of ex-military tough guys track down the scientist who created the syrum, all the while getting in plenty of gunfights with Jihadists. In the end, they team up with a Russian General, with whom Joe has a history, and together, they take down the Imam, and restore the scientist to the cattle industry.

The 2016 Presidential election has made it very clear that there are two United States of America existing simultaneously: the coastal, liberal thinking, urban populous, and its white male dominated conservative counterpart. Taurus, Taurus, Taurus, a novel by Gordon Rayner, will appeal to the latter. It is chock full of espionage tech, a litany of government organizations bumbling through red tape towards a collective goal, descriptions of guns, and derogatory terms for people of Middle Eastern descent. America, fuck yeah!

Most of the book follows the protagonist, Joe Garner, a former special ops tough guy extraordinaire with too much integrity to toe the company line, who goes to work for a private black ops security company. (Bruce Willis could play him in the film). Joe’s got a bad leg, drinks a lot, and makes frequent mention of other men’s cowboy boots. Joe’s wife is also some kind of operative who goes on “spooky wooky missions,” though her character is for the most part left unexplored. In one of the least plot related, and kinkiest scenes in the book, Joe and his wife go to Jamaica, get “ganja” from the “tall black porter,” and then they end up back in the hotel room with his wife dabbing cannabis syrup on her nipples?! The sexy talk doesn’t stop there. There is a physical therapist who reads porno mags at his desk, and at some point the operatives are implanted with scrotum tracking chips.

Not surprisingly, this book is about sperm. In a meeting with a client, Joe discovers that a big beef conglomerate based in Houston is the top provider for cattle worldwide, and has developed a “dream sperm machine.” But, the plant where the super sperm was being developed has been blown sky high. Years later, a mysterious ransom note appears from the dream sperm’s creator, Dr. Gambil, who turns out is in cahoots with terrorists from Kyrgyzstan, setting the plot in motion.

Joe and his highly paid team of former special ops trained killer-cowboys travel around the globe chasing down the doctor and the Jihadists. From New Jersey to Argentina to Kyrgyzstan, Joe and his guys are always one step ahead of the Islamic Brigade, whose attempts to sterilize the super bulls continue to be halted by American bullets. They win every battle in overwhelming fashion.

In one section, Joe and his guys realize that since they are a private organization, the Geneva Convention can be disregarded. They discuss the best ways to torture an Islamic militant, including making him watch a pig get slaughtered and then covering him in its entrails, and having a naked woman attack him.

This book is for meat eating, red-blooded, cowboy boot wearing country boys. Fans of John Le Carre and Robert Ludlum will enjoy the way these all American heroes kick tons of ass.

Pages: 271 | ASIN: B01H8WPPNE

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