The advance praise for this book made it sound like a cross between Faulkner and Willa Cather. The book was described as poetic, and it is in places, and the story was touted as riveting, and it is in places. Unfortunately, the other places mar what could have been a very good book.

The descriptions of places are so vivid that one can almost smell the salt air and see the clouds drifting lazily across an azure sky. On the other hand, the descriptions of the characters are like a typical laundry list – make sure we get the color of the hair, eyes, etc in. And each character is introduced with a lengthy back story that adds nothing to the main story.

At one point, I almost stopped reading the book when two men are sitting around shooting the breeze and reminding each other of past exploits. It was an okay scene, with a bit too much exposition, but I was willing to go along with it until they remembered an evening with two “ladies” and what they could have learned had the ladies done a “girl on girl” for them. I am not a prude and have read some pretty racy stuff in the past, but it was always important to the story. This had nothing to do with the story and was so gratuitous I threw the book across the room.

Then, to be fair to the author, and to see what on earth the other readers were finding so good about this book, I retrieved it and read on. But about halfway through, I just had to give up.

The author used a technique of stopping in the middle of a scene and writing a few paragraphs in italics. Normally, italics are used for internal dialogue, or perhaps a short flashback. But in this case, the italics were puzzling. The narrative switched from past tense to present tense in most of these “italic breaks” but the reader is still in the same scene, and nothing has changed except the tense. That style makes for a very disconcerting read, and it was the primary reason I gave up on the book. A reader should not have to work so hard to follow the story.

That’s too bad because what is good about this book proves that Vickery is a capable writer. He is  an award-winning essayist, poet, journalist and editor, and he served as chief writer of the PsyWar Division in the U.S. Army. He wrote and directed a play, Paper Is Cheaper than Blood, which was staged in five European countries and adapted a short story he wrote, The Day There Was No News, which aired on radio and television. This is his first novel, and maybe it is just another example of what happens when a book is published without the benefit of a good editor.

www.georgelvickery.com.

Booksurge
ISBN: 978-1-4196-8593-4
423 pages – Paperback – $15.99

Beyond September is available for sale online at Amazon.com, BookSurge.com, and through additional wholesale and retail channels worldwide.

Maryann Miller Maryann’s Website

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