Quick Review … Kevin Brennan’s Town Father: Or, Where Graceful Girls Abound absolutely rocks.
Long, drawn out review, in which I discuss my family, a book, and many other things:
One of the joys of parenthood is spending your time taking care of your kids when they get themselves into a pickle. Anybody who read that sentence without at least a hint of sarcasm needs to go back and try again.
A little over a week ago, the Queen and I were awakened shortly before midnight by one of those calls. You know, there is no good call at midnight on a Saturday. It was the older Prince Midget, calling to let us know he had been an accident. He was fine, nary a scratch on his hair or hide. Problem is that his car was totaled. While the kid had a rental paid for by the insurance company for a few days, that wouldn’t go on forever, so Friday night, I made arrangements to fly down to Long Beach and help him find a replacement car.
Meanwhile, over at Kevin Brennan’s blog, he revealed that his new book was officially out in paperback. Kevin is one of those rare self-published authors who hit the lottery with his first book — before the e-book and self-publishing craze came along — when it was traditionally published. Since then, he has written a number of books — Yesterday Road, Occasional Soulmates, and now Town Father. I’ll be honest, the first of his books I read was Yesterday Road and I wasn’t quite sure about the book. It was … OK. But I started following Kevin’s blog and when he published Occasional Soulmates, the description of the book struck me as something I needed to read. So, I did and I really enjoyed it. Enough that I got his traditionally published book, Parts Unknown, read it and enjoyed it as well.
When Kevin revealed that he had another book waiting in the wings, I started thinking like a teeny bopper (that’s for you, Tamrah, in case you read this) waiting for the next Justin Bieber single. I couldn’t wait. I wanted to read his new book.
One of the things that I really appreciate was that he decided to skip the e-book option, at least at the outset, and try to get the book-reading public interested in a paperback and forking out $10 or $11 for a self-published author. I have a huge amount of respect for that and I think more of us self-published authors need to consider this. We need to stop pushing our works for the lowest price possible and start putting our work out there at the price it deserves. But anyway, I digress.
Once Kevin posted on his blog that the book was available, I raced to Amazon and purchased a copy of the book. And then I waited. My god, if it was an e-book I’d be reading it right way, right? But, patience is a virtue and maybe that’s a part of books. So, I waited.
The book arrived. Thank you to Amazon Prime’s free two-day delivery. Meanwhile, in the last week, there were three other books I purchased for various reasons. But Town Father was in my hot little hands. I started reading it Thursday night and by Saturday, had read about 50 pages. Yes, when you can only read in those moments before sleep time, it’s somewhat difficult to get through much more than 20 pages or so per night.
Saturday, however, was a thing of beauty. I had a flight to catch and hours to sit in an airport and then on an airplane. I packed myself up … four books (because you never know if you’ll like what you’re reading, am I right) … and headed to the airport. After checking in and nearly stripping to my undies to get through security, I settled in with Town Father. A couple of hours later, I boarded the plane and a little over an hour after that, I landed in Long Beach. In those three hours, I barely stopped reading. Apparently, I didn’t need those other three books, except for the flight home.
Here’s the thing about Kevin’s stories. They are on some level, just that, stories. Generally speaking, rather simple, but that’s part of the charm. There’s not a lot of complexity. But at the same time, on a whole other level, there’s a lot of meaning in them. They are chock full of messages if you are the type who wants something other than to just read a story.
Town Father tells the story of Hestia, a town born in the California foothills of the Sierra Nevada in the latter part of the 19th century. Formed by a group of women who decided they wanted to live apart from the “larger world”. More specifically, they decided they wanted to live apart from men and their influence because of men’s competitiveness and evil ways. They formed Hestia and went along swimmingly for a few years, eventually gathering 300 women to the town until they realized that there was one thing they still needed a man for. And so they advertised for a Town Commissioner and Henry O’Farrell answered the call.
After I finished reading Town Father and started thinking about what I would say about it here, I struck on something. Back when I was a kid, my parents took us to old-fashioned melodramas in Folsom, a California town nestled in the very beginnings of the same foothills where Hestia is located. These were plays based in the Old West of the late 19th century, where there were villains and heroes and damsels in distress. There was corny love, humorous asides, and the audience was expected boo the villains and cheer the heroes and the damsels. Town Father struck me as being a literary version of a melodrama — but more grown up, a little more real, a little more serious. There are villains and damsels in distress (lots of those) and a most unlikely of hero and plenty of opportunities to cheer and boo along the way.
I’d like you to give Kevin Brennan’s book a try. Even in the old-fashioned paperback mode. Is it a perfect story? Of course not, but it is a good little story that may just entertain you as you read and also give you reason to stop and think bit by the end. To me, the highest praise any writer can receive is the idea that somebody sat down to read his or her book and found it impossible to put it down for hours to come. That, in a nutshell, was my experience with Town Father. I hope it is yours, too. And if you read it and experience the book the way I did, spread the word.