Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Review: Class Distinctions by Rick R. Reed

The force that is Rick R. Reed continues to churn out some of the most addictive stories in the literary world today. From the time Unzipped magazine named him "the Stephen King of Gay Horror," Rick has been giving his readers one page turner after another.

What I find most interesting about this crowd pleasing author is his ability to go effortlessly from full out horror to character studies of human drama. Such is the case with Class Distinctions, Rick's latest e-book. This is the story of Kyle and Johnathan, a gay couple at Hamilton University, who are like bookends for one another. Until one evening when Kyle announces that he's ending their relationship.

What follows is an unstoppable trip into the life these two young men have shared as they face a wintry night of anger. The elements which brought them together are rediscovered, but Johnathan also comes to realize that something in Kyle's past is what is now tearing them apart. It's a journey into the bitterly cold night of their dilemma, to the bridge where they found their relationship, that sets the stage for this story's remarkable conclusion.

Reed really knows how to hook his readers. His use of language and imagery is spellbinding. The pictures his work creates are ones that his audience will never forget as they wait in anticipation for his next book.

Recommended reading.

Book Review: Woke Up In A Strange Place by Eric Arvin

It's always a delight to pick up a new Eric Arvin story. The mastery with which Arvin tells his tales sets him apart in today's literary elite.

Woke Up In A Strange Place is an Arvin masterpiece. It's the story of Joe, a young man who wakes up in a barley field with no clothes, no memories, and no direction. His "soul guide" Baker appears and leads him on a journey through his life, portrayed as if through portraits he sees in his mind's eye, and somewhere in the distance is a mysterious stranger who beckons him to continue his trek even when the memories he finds leave him stricken with a desire to go no further.

Joe finds the strength he needs to reclaim his life through the encouraging presence of Baker and also through his unyeilding desire to reach the stranger who's always just ahead, just a little further on. As Joe nears the end of his quest, he comes to find himself in the manner which everyone wishes to discover.

Eric Arvin always weaves his magic with an almost preternatural ability. His work captivates his audience, beginning with The Rest is Illusion and continuing the spellbinding tradition right up to his latest release. Woke Up In A Strange Place reverberates with the reader long after the last word is read.

Book Review: Birthday Pie by Arthur Wooten

Novelist and playwrite Arthur Wooten has built up an enviable following for his work through his popular novels On Picking Fruit and its sequel Fruit Cocktail. Now he's back with a new story of human emotions and familial strife that has been resonating with readers since its release.

Birthday Pie is the story of Lex Martindale. Lex makes a trip home to spend his birthday with his family, where he also wants to enjoy some quality time with his ill father. While there he struggles to decide whether or not to tell his family that he too is suffering from a life threatening ailment.

Lex's visit does more than he expected when he set out on his journey. His return home stirs up a lot of old memories, some of them dark and bitter, some light and happy, some better left in the past, and some forgotten altogether.

Yet as the family gathers to celebrate Lex's birthday, the slow process of healing begins to take place. And not only for Lex. Moving portraits of the family members flow from Wooten's mind like quicksilver, drawing in the reader with a skill that only a seasoned storyteller like he can possess. As the "ordinary family" wends its way toward the novel's conclusion, their lives will come full circle.

Sit down and have a slice of Birthday Pie. It's recommended reading from one of today's most talented scribes.

Making Sense Out of Everything

I haven't blogged in a while. It's been such a hectic summer, with my mind racing from one topic to the next, that I've done well to keep up with correspondence and stay on top of things in my personal life. There have also been so many headlines and news articles that have caught my attention that I couldn't focus on one long enough to write about it before another grabbed the spotlight to replace it. The world is a busy place these days and people are constantly amazing me with their bad judgment, incredible antics, and downright lack of moral fiber.

I got up this morning to see that Casey Anthony has been released from jail three years after her daughter's disappearance and two weeks after her acquittal on murder charges in the case. While I always steal myself against rushing to judgment on anything, I am still stunned by the jury's decision to find her not guilty. I just don't see how they arrived at that conclusion. When the attorneys in the case were making their closing arguments, I had to agree with the prosecutor. Why would anyone take an accident and make it look like murder? It just doesn't add up. Four different stories, incredibly tasteless pictures of Casey out partying in the thirty days that spanned the child's disaapearance and her reporting it to police, and the lack of emotion she showed during the trial spoke volumes to me. I don't know what this young lady has planned for the rest of her life, but I hope she makes no monetary gains from her case. I wasn't there, I don't know what happened, but the old addage about if it walks like a duck and quacks like a can take it from here.

Gay marriage got a huge boost when New York legalized it. I was delighted to see yet another state embrace the civil rights of all its citizens. Then Rhode Island signed into law a bill providing for civil unions. I wasn't as happy about that. Why didn't they just follow New York's lead? There are now four states in the US that allow for marriage between consenting adults, no matter their sexual orientation, and I see it as a beginning that has been long overdue. The religious and the conservative may rail against it as much as they wish, but our constitution provides for equal rights and marriage is a right, not a privilege. It is an expression of the love and the commitment that two people have for each other, and Freedom of Expression is indeed protected by our constitution. It is very heartening to me that the GLBT community is at last realizing its rightful place within the framework of American society. Yet it is also disheartening to see forty-six other states still squelching them. The fact that this will ultimately have to be decided by the US Supreme Court is sad. People shouldn't have to sue for their rights as Americans.

This Mexican standoff in Washington over raising the debt ceiling is becoming something of a farce as well; one with potentially devastating consequences for our nation if things aren't resolved in the next two weeks. The Republicans seem to be holding out as if they think their refusal to deal unless they get their way will force the Democrats to bend under the pressure. The Democrats so far aren't blinking - and I'm proud of them for it too - and President Obama is taking the case to the American people, which I see as a smart move on his part. He's following Bill Clinton's lead and he's standing his ground. I applaud that. The Republican party is still in the minority in Washington and to me the mid term elections proved that the GOP is indeed a fading entity in this country. Tea Partiers aside, this group is facing its extinction event and I think they realize it. That's why they're acting like third graders instead of law makers and leaders. Time marches on. People change their thoughts and beliefs. Values that were valid in the 1950's are no longer as prevalent. It's time for everyone to realize this and get on with the business of governance.

Betty Ford's death saddened me. This was a woman who took her ideals with her into the White House and made herself a place in history almost unrelated to her role as First Lady. She faced breast cancer and triumphed. She faced alcoholism and triumphed. She took her position very seriously and she used it to work toward the realization of her dreams. Women's lib never had a stronger advocate than Betty Ford. Millions of people suffering from addiction benefitted from her uncompromising determination to make this disease known and recognized for what it is. Betty Ford's example and work inspired the whole world. Yes, I am sad about her death but I know her life and her work will live on in the efforts of all those who are following her lead.

Rupert Murdoch and the implosion of his media empire is another debacle I've been closely following. By taking the old idea of yellow journalism and running amok with it, Murdoch's employees have created perhaps the most far reaching scandal of the moment. Hacking into private telephone conversations and emails is tantamount to a nauseating breach of human etiquette the likes of which hasn't been seen since Watergate almost forty years ago. It causes me to question the integrity of news media as a whole. As a writer I am personally offended by the use of such tactics as News of the World employed. A 143 year old newspaper has closed its doors, a multi billion dollar conglomerate stands in the cross hairs, which makes the apologies of Rupert Murdoch seem almost pointless to me. The damage that is being done to news agencies as a whole will go a lot farther than the current scandal. And that is what I see as the biggest shame of it all.

Signing off on this note, I would like to say that I am hopeful things will improve for all of us in the coming weeks and months. People are resilient if nothing else, and our ability to move on after almost anything never ceases to give me faith that all that is happening right now will one day be history. Perhaps the future will lend itself to a brighter day.