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Beauty of the Fall

The Beauty of the Fall5 Stars

Fired. Workaholic technology executive, Dan Underlight is fired from his high-paying job at a Fortune 500 tech company by the woman he considered his best friend. Sixteen years of working together reduced to a severance package. He feels angry, betrayed, and heartbroken, but mostly he feels lost. Lost because being unemployed gives him too much time to think about the tragedy of his ten-year-old son’s accidental death, and the guilt he still carries for spending too much time working and not enough time parenting.

Before he’s processed this toxic blend of emotions, Dan embarks on a new relationship with Willow, a victim’s advocate, a poet, a lost soul, and an abuse survivor. Their love is deeper than anything Dan has experienced before, but will it be enough when he accomplishes his dream of opening a new tech company, one that is in direct competition with the one he left? Will Dan allow himself to grow into a kinder, more compassionate human being at the same time as he grows his company into a conscientious innovator, or will the demons from his past collide with his present and destroy him?

From the very first paragraph, Rich Marcello drew me into his book with a command of the language that I liken to a poet’s. Passages like this one, “He put his head down, tried to rekindle the wildfire he helped birth years ago, tried to daydream down a riven path.” and this one, “Don’t look down, the pinpricks have spouted and are covering the new carpet in blood.” provided me with ample proof early on that Marcello was a real deal literary composer, a master of the language, and a wordsmith with soulful depths.

But beautiful language alone can’t make a reader keep reading. Original characters with powerful character arcs and a compelling story to keep all the characters growing is fundamental. No problem there, either. From Dan to his counselor to Willow to his son, stronger characterization is front and center. I know Dan—he reminds me of the author Richard Bach. I know Willow, too, this wild child, compassionate, changer of the world woman who is always strong, always courageous even when her heart is broken. These characters kept me reading.

Then we arrive at the story. Characters and language need movement, need story, setting, pace, tension. Marcello has these covered, too. Set in New England, the vivid colors of the seasons remain clear in my brain long after I finished the book. Authors who take the time to divide their books into parts and give them names always receive a grateful nod from me. I like to know the structure of a story before I begin reading, and I like rolling back to the Table of Contents to remind myself what’s next in this journey. The Beauty of the Fall’s Table of Contents is especially brilliant; titles like “So it Spins,” “Build from the Sky Down,” “Spectacles, and Halos and Code” promised each chapter would carry its own mini-story and all the mini-stories would merge to form a powerful narrative.

Themes of forgiveness, trust, simplicity, honor, technology as healer, and non-violence echo through the pages of The Beauty of the Fall and held me captive until the end. If I had to name a gripe, it would be that the last chapter was unnecessary. The story should have ended with “The Good-bye Return,” but I can understand why, for closure’s sake, Marcello included “In the Coming.”

The Beauty of the Fall will appeal to readers who love a compelling, well-written story with elements of literary fiction, technology fiction, and romantic fiction. Marcello doesn’t write the type of literary fiction that prizes language over story. He writes the type that uses beautifully soulful language to real unique characters living compelling bittersweet lives.

Pages: 283 | ASIN: B01MFCTYYW

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Review: Dandelion Project

Dandelion Project 3 Stars

The Dandelion Project follows an orphaned German immigrant named Josef that comes to the United States in the 1920’s. He’s orphaned at a young age when his mother unexpectedly and suddenly dies and he’s left wandering the streets of New York. Josef is sent to Kansas where he’s adopted by a childless farming family. He finds that he has a knack for science and desires to be a great inventor, but he struggles with fitting in at school so he drops out. He spends most of his time in libraries reading books on different subjects while the 1930’s and 40’s fly by. Josef soon finds himself in New Orleans where he’s confronted with a project that will give him the one thing that he’s always wanted; a chance to change the world. But will it be a change for the better or worse?

The Dandelion Project is a fantastic piece of literary fiction. The story development is slow, but meticulous and detailed. The story is about 90 percent narration, which in this case works well because it mirrors Josef’s reserved, but intelligent demeanor through the story. The majority of the book serves to develop Josef’s character while the crux of the story, the Dandelion Project, is delivered in the last few chapters. So, I think, the main point of the story is Josef himself and his life, rather than the project he undertakes late in the story. But still, Josef’s story is an interesting one that’s supported more by exceptional storytelling rather than grand fictional twists and turns. Because of this, the ending came as a surprise, it being a fairly large twist itself, and places the story firmly in the science fiction genre. This is odd because the first three quarters of the book could nearly be a non-fiction story. The emotional ending of the story left me with the same feeling of melancholy I had when I finished Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ or ‘I am Legend’. I don’t want to give too much away, but the ending, although sad, is satisfying. This is definitely going to be a story that sticks with me for some time.

Pages: 172

ISBN: 9781257687
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