Archive for December, 2013

Book Review by Roy E. Perry: “Polar” by T. R. Pearson

December 11, 2013

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Editor’s Note: The self-described “amateur philosopher of Nolensville” is at it again! Roy E. Perry, who reviewed books for “The Tennessean” and “Nashville Banner” for thirty years, returns to “Underground Nashville” with the review of another work by Southern novelist/humorist T.R. Pearson. Enjoy!

BOOK REVIEW BY ROY E. PERRY:

As in his other works, T. R. Pearson’s eight novel, Polar (2002), is not so much about the destination as the fun of the journey. Pearson wanders down many a bypath and, by taking the road less traveled, gets all but lost in his vagabond detours. His rabbit chasings, however, are so hilarious that one is delighted by his peregrinations.

Set in the Virginia uplands bordering the Alleghenies, Polar features an abundance of Pearson’s quaint, quirky characters—lowlifes, white trash, and ne’er-do-wells—such as Clayton, “a creature of abject sloth,” who survives on saltines, pork fat, and burly tobacco, and who has a penchant for pornography.

When Angela Denise Dunn, a three-year-old child with beautiful blonde curls and cobalt eyes, wanders into Homer Blaine State Park and fails to return home, local authorities organize a search party.

Enter deputy sheriff Ray Tatum and his sidekick Kit Carson, whom we met in Pearson’s seventh novel Blue Ridge. Described as “a handsome black woman” and “a comely Negro with a talent for kung fu,” Kit causes a significant rise of testosterone among the male members of Appalachia.

Reenter Clayton, who has undergone a “spiritual transformation” and sworn off pornography. By channeling a polar explorer named “Titus,” Clayton now has the gift of eerie prognostication. A mystical seer not unlike Nostradamus, he utters cryptic prophecies of future events. Troubled people looking for advice flock to his house, where they puzzle over what looks like a crab (and turns out to be an outline of Antarctica) that Clayton is drawing on the wall.

Meanwhile, Angela’s mother, Gloria Dunn, has become a celebrity on right-wing TV and talk-radio shows, which Pearson devastatingly parodies. “That Dunn” (Pearson’s typical way of describing his characters) employs thespian skills to portray a suffering, victimized, saintly woman and professional mourner, grieving melodramatically for her lost child while savagely spewing her vitriol denouncing the sad moral decline of America and humankind.

Some readers may not care for Polar‘s unorthodox, rambling plot construction, but the author’s descriptions of place and locale is spot-on, and his portraits of seedy characters and their backwoods palaver mark Mr. Pearson as one of our funniest contemporary literary artists.

For other book reviews by Roy E. Perry, please visit:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2MVUWT453QH61/ref=cm_cr_auth/002-6294896-4602409?%5Fencoding=UTF8

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at Amazon.com and XLibris.com. Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

************
Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/191-4818370-7728230?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=David+M.+Carew

***********
Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

http://www.epiclifecreative.net/LambsCroft/

***********

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

 

Book review: “Selected Stories” by Alice Munro, Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature

December 3, 2013

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Editor’s note: It is with particular enthusiasm that we present the following review by long-time “Tennessean” book reviewer Roy E. Perry. In addition to the pride we take in publishing Mr. Perry’s work, we also rejoice that the Nobel Prize has made some of us (myself included) much more aware of the magnificent literary achievement of Alice Munro. For many years, I believed no literature of any particular note or value had come from North America in 40 years. Alice Munro forces us to reconsider.

BOOK REVIEW BY ROY E. PERRY:

First published in 1996, Alice Munro’s Selected Stories contains 28 stories (spanning three decades), 17 of which were originally published in The New Yorker.

Often moving forward and backward in time, these short stories explore the ambiguity of her characters’ identities and their troubled relationships—passion, cruelty, passive aggression, betrayal, and heartbreak.

Nietzsche once wrote, “Where I saw the living, there I saw the will to power.” A key motif in Munro’s stories is the agonistic interplay between her characters, a power struggle to maximize rights and advantages and minimize weaknesses.

“Relentless seekers of approbation and dispensers of blame,” writes Munro, “they exulted in wounds inflicted but also in wounds received.” A fragile balance exists between sadism and masochism, dominance and submission.

No mean philosopher or psychologist, Munro creates characters who have a public persona and a private persona, or, more correctly, multiple personae, changing masks like chameleons according to with whom they are speaking and with whom they are interacting.

Laying bare their motivations, Munro exposes their pretensions, prevarications, hopes, fears, ambitions, pride, vanity, and self-delusions. There are also numerous extramarital affairs, as in story #28: “She felt the first signal of a love affair like the warmth of the sun on her skin, like music through a doorway, or the moment when the black-and-white television commercial bursts into color.” One wonders if such descriptions are autobiographical.

An underlying theme permeating these stories is the tragic sense of life: the awareness of our mortality—that we are midgets in the immensity of space, mayflies in the infinity of time.

Munro’s fiction is remarkable in that she reveals depths and complexities in the most mundane, everyday experiences. The stories bristle with tension and conflict: “fake assurances, provisional comfort, earnest deceptions.”

Human relationships are freighted with crushing gravity, with heavy burdens and responsibilities. One thinks of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit: “Hell is other people.”

Writing in The New York Times Book Review, John Updike said, “[Munro’s] stories are like few others. One must go back to Tolstoy and Chekhov . . . . for comparable largeness.” I agree.

In Selected Stories one is relieved not to encounter—as in much contemporary fiction—one-dimensional, cartoon people, cardboard characters: not “artificial life, something contrived, not entirely serious,” but people who (although fictional) seem amazingly “real.”

Many of Munro’s stories boil down to this passage from story #25: “He lifted his head, gave it a shake, and made a pronouncement. ‘Love never dies.’ She felt impatient to the point of taking offense. This is what all the speechmaking turns you into, she thought, a person who can say things like that. Love dies all the time, or at any rate it becomes distracted, overlaid—it might as well be dead.” No wonder Shakespeare’s Puck exclaims, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

For other book reviews by Roy E. Perry, please visit:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2MVUWT453QH61/ref=cm_cr_auth/002-6294896-4602409?%5Fencoding=UTF8

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at Amazon.com and XLibris.com. Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

************
Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/191-4818370-7728230?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=David+M.+Carew

***********
Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

http://www.epiclifecreative.net/LambsCroft/

***********

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew