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Can a libertarian curmudgeon survive in a post 9/11 America? Is it possible to create the perfect meal on a Baby Q grill? Will Elaine finally succumb to her innermost desires? Check out my novels - which I am excerpting to separate blogs as I write them. Just click on my Profile button to access their links.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another Man's Poison - Simon John Cox

tur·gid (tûrjd)
1. Excessively ornate or complex in style or language; grandiloquent: turgid prose.
2. Swollen or distended, as from a fluid; bloated: a turgid bladder; turgid veins.


[Latin turgidus, from turgre, to be swollen.]

"Another Man's Poison", by Simon John Cox, is a perfect example to give whenever you want to describe the word 'turgid'. His first novel, AMP is a difficult book to review. It wants to be a psychological thriller - and it wants to be an expression of auctorial angst. Unfortunately it delivers on neither promise; I would not recommend this book to any reader because of aforementioned failure.

There are four main characters within the novel, the madman, the pregnant spiritualist/herbalist, the police captain and the dedicated doctor. Of these four, only one has a revealed background even approaching the level needed to support a description beyond 'cardboard cutout'. The madman, whose viewpoint we get to 'enjoy' for the first few chapters, initially comes across as a laborer who cares about others, but who has a minor quirk whereby he feels the need to 'prosletyze' his beliefs/faith to others. We do not really get any description of this until much later in the book - by which time the point of view has switched to that of the dedicated doctor.

This initial playful tease at understanding the madman is followed by an abrupt and un-signalled switch to that of the pregnant herbalist/spiritualist. And in doing so, the author chooses to step a bit back in time so that her story overlaps the madman's by the part of a day. This switch is disconnecting and forces the reader (at least, it did so to me) out of the flow of the story. Then, we discover that the new main character does not really 'see' the prior character any clearer than the original character 'saw' himself. Further, we get a stereotypical view of a woman being innocent enough to deceive herself - this despite 'spiritual' warnings, given in so vague of terms as to enhance her ability to continue to ignore them - of the dangers of the madman to her.

Again, after pushing the story so far, the author chooses to switch, just as abruptly as the first time, to the point of view of the police captain. And, as before, we get to jump back a bit in time, now to around that when the madman's story initially started in the novel, so that we could suffer the same set of circumstances from their point of view - oh joy! Be still my beating heart! (I'll explain why that was no pleasure towards the end of this review.) While the captain - surrounded by his crew of officers with whom he is chasing the madman - has plenty of opportunity to grow as a character, to enhance and/or change his views or his character, he too suffers from the inability to burst forth from his cardboard mold. And by now we understand that the author is trying to write a 'Great American Novel', replete with overwrought imagery and deed psychological isses. (Well, not 'quite' a GAM as the author is British.) Unfortunately he pays more attention to his descriptions of the landscape and the other cardboard cutout characters than he does to the story itself - which is how so many GAMs end up failing to reach their goals.

Finally, we get to the fourth point of view - and here we discover the 'one thing' which gives any semblance of meaning to the suffering the four main characters have undergone - and which should have given meaning to the suffering the reader endures. I cannot tell you the 'one thing' because it would give away *every jot and tittle* of the story. While I hope to spare others the tedium and suffering of reading this book, I have to assume that there are a few people out there who might actually like this kind of writing and I'd hate to deprive them of their pleasure. So to the two of you, you'll just have to buy it.

Back to turgidity. By now you probably have figured out that AMP has lots of 'filler' in the form of nearly 'purple' prose and excessive descriptions of scenerey and unimportant characters. You may have even guessed that we get far more 'viewpoint character' introspection than the story needs. What you don't know is that the author has gone beyond what you might find in a Jane Austen or Charles Dickens story to the level of a Victor Hugo novel. Now, Victor Hugo can pull this off, as can Austen and Dickens - this author cannot. This leaves the reader not only suffering from a pointless novel, but compounds that suffering by stretching the suffering for hours beyond that which a reasonable novel might take.

Save your money - even for less than $3.00, this book, "Another Man's Poison" by Simon John Cox, is a waste of good money.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

What the heck is up with MacMillan?

Anyone who's paid even the 'slightest' attention to the e-book world has probably heard about MacMillan (followed in embarrassingly short order by Harper-Collins and Hachette) unilaterally abrogating the contract between itself and Amazon to force Amazon (a retailer, who's supposed to have the right to set retail prices) to jack the prices on e-books from MacM from $9.99 to $12.99-$14.99 (Yeah, right. Actually, some MacM fiction titles are now going for $16.99!), apparently because, according to John Sargent, CEO of MacM, to give a larger share to the authors.

Yeah. Right. Publishers live or die by the *BINDING* legal contracts they force on the authors. Given the vast number of current authors under contract, I'm wondering how many of these have gotten the new, revised contracts which assigns a greater royalty rate on e-books? My suspicion is that these authors will, for the most part, still be waiting for their new contracts and higher royalty rates until shortly after December 21st, 2012 - after all, if the world ends, MacM won't owe them any increased income, yes?

I'd love to hear from small-fry authors who've actually gotten a renegotiated contract with higher royalty rates.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

So why did I post a list of 377 authors???

I did so because these authors are the ones I've discovered since switching to ebooks. In many ways, I've discovered these authors I now enjoy reading *BECAUSE* I switched to reading ebooks.

See, I had a group of 28 authors whose titles I would purchase as soon as the titles hit the bookshelves of my local Barnes & Noble or Tower bookstores. There were 30 others of whom I have ONE title on my bookshelves at home, but the vast majority of fiction works I own came from one of my 'core' 28 authors. One reason I self-limited was because I only have so much bookshelf space; to add more bookshelf space would require adding a complete room to the house! Obviously, this is not a reasonable option for me as I am NOT Scrooge McDuck wealthy!

Additionally, the cost of traveling to the various bookstores to find new works added to the per-book cost - and I'm not one of those who has that much discretionary income to afford the fuel expenses. Nor do I have that much time to waste cruising around town searching each store to see if a new author looked interesting.

And shopping online for paper books still had a shipping expense that increased the costs of buying books.

Then there's the fact that I cannot carry as many mass-market paperback books around as I can ebooks. To match the capacity of my Kindle 2 (which does NOT, by the way, have the ability to access a swappable SD memory card - all books are held in internal memory) I'd have to haul around a grocery store shopping cart everywhere I go. Doing so makes no sense!

So, prior to switching to ebooks, I was loathe to try out new authors and new genres. Since late 2007, I have expanded my reading horizons and my tastes from 28 authors to over *FOUR HUNDRED*!

Which means I have become more valuable to publishers as I'm now willing to try a wider range and greater number of their titles.

So why is it that MacMillan decided that they had to stiff Amazon by shoving the new 'agency model' of pricing down Amazon's and our (readers) throats???

That will be discussed in my next post.

My list of recent authors I like.

Okay, it's a HUGE list. But these are the authors, 377 of them, I've 'discovered' over the past two years. My next post will discuss why this list is important.

Ackroyd, Peter
Adams, William
Aguirre, Ann
Ahmed, S. W.
Anderson, Catherine
Andrews, Ilona
Anthony, Michael
Archer, Alex
Arthur, Keri
Atherton, Nancy
Atwell, Sarah
Avocato, Lori
Baer, Robert
Bakker, R. Scott
Baldacci, David
Banche, Linda
Banks, Ian M.
Banks, Leanne
Barant, D. D.
Barclay, Linwood
Bardsley, Michele
Barrett, Lorna
Bast, Anya
Batchelder, Dennis
Bauer, Sydney
Baxter, Stephen
Beach, Edward
Becker, James
Beckett, Simon
Bell, James Scott
Bell, Madison Smartt
Benson, Amber & Golden, Christopher
Bergstrom, Elaine
Berry, Steve
Betts, Heidi
Black, Lisa
Blair, Annette
Bliss, Miranda
Blue, Ally
Blue, Benjamin
Bond, Stephanie
Bourne, J. L.
Boyett, Steven R.
Brandner, Gary
Brant, Kylie
Brewer, Heather
Brooker, Charlie
Brothers, Marilee
Brown, Don
Brown, Sandra
Buckley, Michael
Bulock, Lynn
Burstein, Daniel
Burton, Mary
Butcher, Shannon
Byerrum, Ellen
Caine, Rachel
Cameron, Kenneth
Campbell, Ramsey
Canham, Marsha
Caputo, Philip
Carey, Mike
Casey, Elizabeth Lynn
Caskie, Kathryn
Chambers, Kaye
Chao, Eveline
Chevalier, Tracy
Child, Maureen
Childs, Laura
Chirichello, Judie
Christopher, Paul
Churchill, Jill
Churchill, Vincent
Clark, Mary Jane
Clem, Bill
Cline, J. E. D.
Conant, Susan
Connolly, Harry
Connolly, Sheila
Connor, James
Conroy, Pat
Coonts, Stephen
Cooper, Seamus
Cornwell, Bernard
Coulter, Catherine
Craig, Christie
Crais, Robert
Cumming, Charles
Cussler, Clive
D’Arc, Bianca
Daniels, Casey
Dare, Justine
Dash, Mike
Dashner, James
Davitt, Jane
Day, S. J.
Delany, Joseph
Dexter, Pete
Dickey, Eric Jerome
Donati, Sara
Donohue, Keith
Doolittle, Sean
DuBois, Lila
Dunbar, Robert
Duncan, Hal
Dunham, David Anthony
Durgin, Doranna
Edwardson, Ake
Ellory, R. J.
Enthoven, Sam
Fallon, Linda
Fante, Dan
Ferguson, Alane
Ferris, Monica
Finucan, Stephen
Follett, Ken
Folsom, Allan
Fox, Cathryn
Freeman, Brian
Freeman, Pamela
Freemantle, Brian
Frey, Stephen
Gagnon, Michelle
Gaider, David
Gaylord, Joshua
Gerritsen, Tess
Gibson, Gary
Gischler, Victor
Glazer, Melissa
Goddard, Robert
Grace, Viola
Graham, Heather
Graves, Sarah
Gregory, Daryl
Griffin, Laura
Gruley, Bryan
Haag, Michael
Haig, Brian
Haines, Carolyn
Hall, James
Halliday, Gemma
Hamer, Bob
Hamilton, Clayton
Handeland, Lori
Hanover, M. L. N.
Hardy, Janice
Harper, Molly
Hayder, Mo
Hazleton, Lesley
Helvarg, David
Hendee, Barb
Henry, Sue
Hicks, Robert
Hill, Reginald
Hill, Tobias
Hinze, Vicki
Hoag, Tami
Holder, Nancy
Holmes, Richard
Holzner, Nancy
Hooper, Kay
Horowitz, Anthony
Howe, Katherine
Hughes, Mary Ellen
Hunter, Faith
Huston, Charlie
Huston, James
Hynd, Noel
Hyzy, Julie
Iggulden, Conn
Iles, Greg
Irvine, Ian
Jackson, Lisa
Jackson, Steven H.
Jacobson, Alan
Jaffe, Greg
James, Peter
Jenkins, John Major
Johansen, Iris
Johnson, Maureen
Johnston, Linda O.
Jones, Diana Wynne
Jordan, Steve
Joyce, Graham
Kalla, Daniel
Kane, Andrea
Kaplan, Lawrence
Kate, Lauren
Kava, Alex
KcKevett, G. A.
Kelly, Jim
Kelly, Paddy
Kent, Rebecca
Keyes, Greg
Kittredge, Caitlin
Klasky, Mindy
Konrath, J. A.
Krentz, Jayne Ann
Kuzneski, Chris
Lacey, Robert
Lahaye, Tim
Lamb, Joyce
Langan, John
Lansdale, Joe R.
Larsen, Craig
Lasky, Kathryn
Lattimer, Linda
Lawrence, C. E.
Lawson, Mike
Laymon, Richard
Learner, T. S.
Lee, Edward
Lee, Rachel
Lehane, Dennis
Leithauser, Brad
Lescroart, John
Lethem, Jonathan
Levin, Daniel
Levine, Laura
Levitt, John
Lilley, Kathryn
Lindsay, Jeff
Link, Kelly
Liu, Marjorie M.
Locke, Attica
Lodge, David
Loehfelm, Bill
Lovelace, Merline
MacAlister, Katie
Maclaine, Jenna
MacLeod, Ian R.
Maffini, Mary Jane
Malde, Ross
Marciano, John
Mariani, Scott
Masello, Robert
Mayle, Peter
McAdam, Colin
McBride, Susan
McCallum, Ian
McCarthy, Erin
McCoy, Chris
McCrumb, Sharyn
McCullough, Colleen
McDermid, Val
McDermott, Andy
McFadyen, Cody
McGirt, Dan
McKenna, Shannon
McLean, Stuart
McLeod, Suzanne
McNab, Andy
Meltzer, Brad
Mewshaw, Michael
Meyer, Stephenie
Michaels, Richard
Mitchell, David
Monk, Devon
Montanari, Richard
Morrell, David
Morris, Janine A.
Mosse, Kate
Mull, Brandon
Napier, Bill
Neggers, Carla
Neill, Chloe
Niffenegger, Audrey
O’Neill, Joseph
Olsen, Gregg
Olson, Karen E.
Ortberg, Nancy
Osterlund, Anne
Palmer, Diana
Paretsky, Sara
Parker, K. J.
Parker, T. Jefferson
Patterson, James
Paul, Graham Sharp
Pawlik, Tom
Pearson, Ridley
Pelegrimas, Marcus
Petroff, Shani
Phillips, Brandon Cole
Phillips, Richard
Philpin, John
Phoenix, Adrian
Piccirilli, Tom
Pink, Daniel H.
Priest, Cherie
Rankin, Ian
Ranney, Karen
Rashid, Ahmed
Reilly, Matthew
Reynolds, Dallas McCord
Rice, Luanne
Riordan, Rick
Robbins, David L.
Roberts, Wendy
Robertson, Linda
Robinson, Peter
Robson, Justina
Rocha, Luis M.
Rowland, Diana
Rubens, Michael
Rush, Jaime
Ryan, Chris
Sage, Angie
Sakey, Marcus
Sams, Candace
Sanderson, Brandon
Sandford, John
Sandom, J. G.
Schrieber, Joe
See, Lisa
Senor, Dan
Shan, Darren
Showalter, Gena
Siddons, Anne Rivers
Silva, Daniel
Simmer, Janni
Singer, Randy
Singh, Nalini
Slaughter, Karin
Smith, Alexander McCall
Smith-Ready, Jeri
Snow, Alexa
Snyder, Lucy A.
Spradlin, Michael P.
Sprinkle, Patricia
Staub, Wendy Corsi
Steele, Mary Ann
Stegner, Wallace Earle
Stiefvater, Maggie
Stolze, Greg
Strout, Elizabeth
Suarez, Daniel
Sullivan, Mark T.
Summers, Tamara
Sussman, Paul
Swanwick, Michael
Tapply, William G.
Taylor, Anderson
Tchaikovsky, Adrian
Thayer, Terri
Theorin, Johan
Thomas, Steven M.
Thompson, Colleen
Thor, Annika
Tiernan, Cate
Todd, Charles
Tyler, Anne
Tyler, Stephanie
Unger, Lisa
Vachss, Andrew
Vaughan, Elizabeth
Viehl, Lynn
Viets, Elaine
Vincent, Bev
Vincent, Rachel
Vining, Dan
Walker, Shiloh
Ward, J. R.
Ware, Joss
Washburn, Livia J.
Webber, Minda
Weisberger, Lauren
Wells, Melinda
White, Dave
White, Sasha
White, Stephen
Whyte, Jack
Wolfe, Inger Ash
Woods, Terri
Wright, S. L.
Yancey, Rick
Young, Robyn
Zuiker, Anthony E.