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Book Reviews

Thursday
Oct202011

Review: ETA - Estimated Time of Arrest

ETA: Estimated Time of Arrest, by Delphine Pontvieux, Miss Nyet Publishing, 2009, 334 Pages. Available at Miss Nyet Publishing and Amazon.

Review by Dan Burns

In addition to being an avid reader, I am a lover of books, and when I first held the hardcover edition of ETA: Estimated Time of Arrest in my hands, I felt I was in for a special treat. The dust jacket immediately piqued my interest with a professional design, color scheme, and finish that truly sets it apart on the bookshelf. Underneath the dust jacket (and you must look) is the beautifully appointed front board, with the title, author name and elaborate graphics emblazoned in gold. Imprinting of the front board is an often-overlooked detail in the publishing industry today, as publishers continue to trim their expenses, and they tend to limit the printing of the hard cover simply to the spine. I figure they assume that most readers won’t look under the dust jacket, and that is unfortunate. I still think the details matter, and the quality of this book is better as a result of the details the author, Ms. Pontvieux, insisted upon.

The story of ETA opens in Mexico City with the introduction of Rafael Vargas, a young man with a unique eye condition, heterochromia iridium, which has graced him with a pair of eyes where one iris is a different color that the other. At first, I took this particular medical condition as just a defining character trait for Rafael, which can be seen in the dark and mysterious eyes looking out from the dust jacket of the book. However, after reading the story, I realized that the different eyes held much broader metaphoric meanings for me, including: the merging of the past and the present, the marriage of new and old, what is known and what is left to interpretation, the struggle of right vs. wrong, and the details we share with others and those that are better kept secret. I was intrigued and surprised that a single pair of eyes could convey so much meaning in a story.

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Monday
Aug292011

Review: "Remembering Gage Park"

Remembering Gage Park by William P. Shunas; self-published through Xlibris; copyright 2010. Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and at www.Xlibris.com/Bookstore

Paperback $15.00-20.00. Kindle edition $7.69

Review by Kent McDaniel

A fictional memoir, Remembering Gage Park  begins: “I was eight years old when I met Connor. That was they day he nearly put out my eye. You would’ve thought I’d have learned something that day, but not me.” That hook imbedded, Shunas pauses to describe Chicago’s then-unpaved alleys, Gage Park’s turf protocols for eight-year-olds, and the workings of the Chicago Democratic Machine, before returning to his narrator’s fateful meeting with Connor. Intriguing stuff, and for the rest of the book Shunas continues to intersperse tense scenes with sharply-etched description of Gage Park: the streets, homes, gardens, stores, vacant lots, the people and their culture, the politics and economics. He tells all this through Mike Staron, a semi-tough Gage Park kid who grew up, got through college and did okay. Looking back now, Mike wastes few words and evinces an eye for detail and a hard-edged poetry to his voice. For some of us, our childhood neighborhood has a homely kind of magic, and Mike Staron’s description of his grade-school years beautifully nails that feeling. It’s similar to what Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine did for Waukegan, minus the sugar coating. 

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