Tuesday, May 31, 2016
IR Verdict: SIMPLE SIMON is an engaging tale of a gay man's quest for enlightenment and self-acceptance.
A young gay man struggles with his identity as he recovers from drug abuse.
Simon Powell is in rehab, trying to break free of cocaine addiction with the help of his lover Thad and his mother Vivian. As part of his therapy, he is told to write out his life story, and his feelings about his past. His reminiscences begin with his troubled childhood in rural Arkansas, where his discovery of his own homosexuality leaves him feeling rejected and irreparably separate from his family and friends. Finding solace and family in Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, he becomes a leading fundraiser and provider of spiritual guidance – but he must deny his own sexuality in order to hold on to his secure place in the church, and the resulting conflict, along with internal church conflict, leads him to lose faith. Embroiled in drug addiction and despair, can Simon ever learn to love himself as he is, and accept the love others have for him?
SIMPLE SIMON is a touching, thoughtful look at one man’s search for family, self-acceptance, and the ability to love and be loved. The author does not preach or spend too much time on explication, but simply draws Simon’s life as it goes on, deftly showing his emotional conflicts and self-doubt along with his triumphs and successes. The Unification Church is shown with both honesty and sympathy, as a collection of human beings with both virtues and flaws, rather than either an evil cult or a group of holy saints. It is not difficult to see either the comfort and certainty Simon finds there or the reason that that comfort and security cannot last. The book does leave out a substantial and rather crucial part of Simon’s life after he leaves the church, including the beginning of his relationship with Thad. For such a vital part of Simon’s life – his salvation, perhaps – Thad is left rather mysteriously offstage for the most part.
SIMPLE SIMON is an engaging tale of a gay man’s quest for enlightenment and self-acceptance.
Monday, February 29, 2016
Reviewer: Alan Chin
Author: Edward Patterson
The story begins on Chi Lin’s wedding day – an exciting time for any bride, unless the groom has died and the ceremony, as per contract, must proceed. Chi Lin becomes a ghost bride—the Fourth Wife in the House of Wu, a respectable Ming Dynasty household. Chi Lin assumes her role under the stern command of her mother-in-law and the disdainful eye of the First Wife. Still, as Mistress Purple Sage, Chi Lin fights to uphold her honor and maintain her many secrets while breathing fresh life into this ancient household.
As with all the novels I’ve read by Edward Patterson, this story blends an imaginative touch with the author’s life long devotion to China and its history.
A unique voice and a fresh and vibrant set of characters gave this novel the ability to transport me into another world for an adventure far beyond my limited imagination. The book delighted me with a rather touching love story. Yet this is a love yarn of a different nature, the tale of a woman who falls in love with her dead husband’s household. It is a story of intrigue, loyalty, and honor.
The author takes the reader back into China during the Ming dynasty, when women played a subservient role, supporting their husbands, revering their fathers and elders, and assuring their children followed the same dauntless path. Still, within the narrow confines of a subservient life, there was always a place to leave a mark and alter the future.
As with the author’s Southern Swallow series, this story is a vivid, imaginative, and often humorous romp through a pivotal point in Chinese history. It blossoms into a tale of intrigue, household politics, love, and overcoming hardships in a repressive environment. The plot is a bit predictable, yet stays interesting. The author’s consummate skill at crafting prose and his well-researched details kept me fully engaged until the last page. I would recommend this read to anyone who enjoys multifaceted characters, humor, and a well-crafted story.