Category: Reviews

Remick and Ray Interview Joel Chafetz

 Joel Chafetz is the author of The Chaff. We interviewed Joel between February 5 and February 9, 2014.The novel is on and other mainstream outlets.  R&R: In this interview, we want to focus on technique and process in your writing of The Chaff rather than on story so we’ll get right to it: How did you get to this place? Why did you write this novel at this time? JC: I used to think of myself as a short story writer. I believe that the meat grinder of critique – getting feedback from writers I trusted – would hone my skills or at least remind me to deal with the weaknesses of my prose. Combining multiple views of writers with different focuses, strengths and insights helped me clarify what I couldn’t see in my own work. Then, over twenty years ago I started writing practice, structured timed writing. It helped develop the writing of scenes, develop voice,  push a story to the end. This added to my focus of what I thought writing should be, do, become. The short story, novel, poem, creative non-fiction prose, all are the products of the narrative. Robert Olin Butler said about short stories, “I have this to say about that.” Butler also said of the novel, “I have all these things to say about that.” My struggle in trying to write a...

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The Book of Changes in ForeWord Reviews

ForeWord Reviews LITERARY The Book of Changes Jack Remick Coffeetown Press 978-1-60381-186-6 (Oct 15, 2013)   One rebellious college student’s study of the Middle Ages parallels his tumultuous journey into adulthood.  The Book of Changes, by Jack Remick, is a compelling coming-of-age novel with a keen sense of character and place. It’s the third in Remick’s California Quartet—The Deification and Valley Boy are the first two installments, and the quartet will finish with the forthcoming Trio of Lost Souls. Each book in the series traces a different young man’s coming-of-age story in different locations in the state. Because each book has a different character, readers don’t need to have read the previous books. In this installment, Beast arrives at Berkeley to study the Middle Ages. At the same time, he faces a tumultuous time of painful trial-and-error learning that mirrors his historical era of interest. The novel presents a vivid look at the political and social unrest and upheaval that captivated Berkeley in the 1970s. Remick takes a deeply personal look at this broad environment by situating the story from Beast’s point of view. This authorial choice gives the novel an intensity and emotional weight as Beast faces high stakes with decisions about drugs, sex, academics, and life and death. The book is divided into two sections, “Revolution” and “Rebellion,” that echo the protagonist’s journey from innocence, through dark...

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A Review of Murdock Tackles Taos

The Man, the Modulars, the Mystery A review of Robert J Ray’s Murdock Tackles Taos Invisible to all but the most astute reader, yet tools of the trade to the writer, modular scenes are the core of the mystery novel. Modular scenes are those universal elements every mystery has or it’s not a mystery. To name a few: Crime Scene Sleuth on Stage Victim Killer on Stage First encounter—Victim and Killer First encounter—Killer and Sleuth Object links Victim’s lair Killer’s lair Return to the crime scene Killer confrontation. Modular scenes are frames that contain the story. In the hands of an amateur, the modulars are clunky and obvious. In the hands of a master, such as Robert J. Ray, the modular frame dissolves leaving character, action, image, lust and desire. Every Murdock mystery has two defining characteristics: Good writing and control of the elements. Good Writing: Buried in the action sequences in this novel there are, for example, subtle techniques of language that harken back to the rhetorical past: “He drove a Humvee. Humvees smelled of money, money in her life was like manna, manna made her thighs quiver.” In sentences such as this, Ray pays homage to Aristotle and the Trivium all in the context of a 21st Century detective novel…which, by the way, I believe Mr. Ray is in the process of reinventing by sticking with tradition...

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Cole Alpaugh’s Read of Valley Boy

I read the book straight through today and felt like it’s a piece demanding to be discussed in a book club or creative writing group. Valley Boy is a teeming amalgam of allegory, pathos, and stark language, all wrapped in a blend of dark humor and strangely relateable characters. What is Valley Boy about? Turkey debeaker Ricky Edwards heads to college, falls in love with a rock guitarist, and faces coming of age challenges – such as learning how to order coffee and the importance of following The Rules – revealed in a storyline reminiscent of an Allen Ginsberg poem. Remick writes with a fresh voice in prose as raw as the open wounds his subjects are apt to suffer. An unrelenting literary experiment that is also a terrific read. Best enjoyed with a caffe latte … or maybe a macchiato? All the best, Cole Share this:TweetShare on TumblrEmailLike this:Like...

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