Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions
Jeffrey Luscombe’s debut novel features Josh Moore, who lives with his dysfunctional family in the gritty industrial city of Hamilton, Ontario. At an early age, Josh plans his escape from the oppressive steel-mill culture, and dreams of adventures in far away places, but year after year Josh’s dreams take a backseat while he grows further immersed in the town and society that he abhors.
The novel is a series of well-written short stories, each one a snapshot of a time during Josh Moore’s life. Every story is finely crafted to show the development of each turning point in the protagonist’s life, and illustrates how life can, inch by inch, crush a person’s dreams and the will to fight for what one believes.
Although each story brilliantly captures a mood and paints a vivid picture, it took me a long time to warm to this lead character, about 180 pages. I simply didn’t care about him or his dreams because the author didn’t do enough to make me connect with him. That made for a somewhat dull read, but things changed in the last 40 pages. I began to cheer for Josh, and finally became absorbed in his story.
I’m not a huge fan of coming out stories, but this one I can highly recommend, because I feel it is more about overcoming a lifetime of bad choices to finally savor that sweet wine of triumph. It is about battling one’s culture and past, to find one’s identity. Shirts and Skins is a story that, I feel, everyone can relate to.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Seriously Good Books
This coming-of-age novel is set in the second century AD, and recounts the seven-year relationship between Emperor Hadrian and Antinous of Bithynia, a Greek youth from Asia Minor. Told from Antinous’s point of view, this story recounts the affair between the fourteenth emperor of Rome and a Greek farmboy that was raised to the height of a pagan god because of his famous beauty.
The author gives rigorous attention to historical accuracy in recreating Roman society in the second century AD, and presents it with beautiful prose, which is by far the highlight of this otherwise dull novel.
The first third of the book is mostly description about the setting, with few scenes and no conflict to speak of. In fact, the writer’s style of telling, telling, telling, keeps the reader at a distance from the characters, and offers very few engaging scenes throughout the book, making it read like a dry history book. I found it lacking in exploring the interpersonal relationship between Antinous and Hadrian, which left me wanting more.
The author offers up a few petty court squabbles as a way to inject drama, but they seem so insignificant that they don’t register on the interest scale.
This is obviously a well-researched novel, told with a lovely voice, but it is not a book I can recommend.