Saturday Show #20, The Austin Writing Group, Episode 9:
~ The influence of Hunter S. Thompson on the culture, writers, and journalism.
~ “Think Pieces” in journalism. Long dead or still alive?
~ Magazine editors working WITH fiction writers on their stories (as the New Yorker editors did with Salinger’s “Bananafish” story.)
~ Amount of critical attention stories by writers like Salinger and Hemingway get vs. other writers.
~ Sophomoric themes.
~ Theme vs. Message.
~ Dialogue as a HOOK.
~ Specificity of details: When they work and when they don’t.
~ “Themeless artworks”
~ “The Magus” by John Fowles
Grab my novel, ALMOST HOME, at one of these cool e-tailers:
Critical acclaim for Frank Marcopolos and “Almost Home”:
“Almost Home” by Frank Marcopolos is a fun and fast-paced novel about the seedy side of student life on a college campus in upstate New York–a netherworld, like any college town, where young adults create lives for themselves, yet are too young to realize the consequences of their actions.
The story is told in alternating voices between two players on the school’s baseball team: Enzo, a one-time star pitcher who has taken to drinking heavily and seems destined to become one of the sad aging locals who “could have been a contender,” and Budski, a power hitter and budding gangster who runs the local bad-boy fraternity. Budski’s main interest is making money, and he has all sorts of businesses on the side, most of them illegal.
The two are in conflict from page one, when Enzo stumbles upon the death of a young stripper at a party in Budski’s fraternity house. Budski cleverly chooses to keep enemies his close and so makes Enzo an honorary fraternity brother. In the evil spirit, he later elects Enzo to be the the spokesman (and guinea pig) for a steroid-spiked sports drink that could make them rich.
Stirring the pot are Jenny, a wild girl, and Shannon, a more or less “good” girl who keeps Enzo (barely) on the right path.
When Enzo finally wakes up the fact that Budski is not only taking advantage of him–but could ruin his life–the conflict between them erupts.
I read “Almost Home” in one sitting. (All right, I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner but after fixing them, I read while I ate. Usually I resist this temptation if the book’s on my Kindle.)But “Almost Home” keeps you in its thrall. The language rings true–and reads seamlessly within each character’s alternating chapters. The vivid atmosphere settled me in a sleepy burg where the cultural and social center was the college. The powerful and vivid atmosphere, much the same as when I was in college, although much more hypnotic and alluring, goes further. It seduces one to remain on the cusp of adulthood forever. In “Almost Home” that powerful temptation seems possible–at the price of selling one’s soul.” ~ Kathleen Maher‘s review on Amazon.com.
“I started reading “Almost Home” by Frank Marcopolos under the assumption that it would be a very sports centric novel and was therefore surprised to find out that it was actually much more than this. The plot has several twists and turns and explores the overall drama of college life with particular attention being paid to the more seedy aspects.
The novel follows the conflict between two protagonists, Barry Budiski and Enzo Prinziatta which occurs from the moment they meet at a Halloween Frat party. Things get worse at the part when a stripper appears to die from a drug overdose and Enzo is thrown out by a few of Barry’s fraternity brothers. Barry, who is president of the Frat house soon realises that he should try and keep his potential enemies closer and therefore joins the same baseball team as Enzo and even invites him to be a honourary fraternity brother. Before long the two of them are more or less working together but there is still a level of conflict that continues to bubble along beneath the surface, enhanced by the involvement of two women named Jenny & Shannon.
I found the book to be cleverly written, fast paced and interesting in the way it explored multiple elements of University life, from the wild parties to life in the dorms. I also appreciated how Marcopolos gives the readers a narrative that alternates between the viewpoints of both Barry and Enzo. This alternating viewpoint ensured that I could attempt to understand the way in which the characters were acting to the point that at times I couldn’t actually decide if I actually liked or disliked them. There really was no good or bad guys in the story, these were meant to be characters with both negative and positive aspects which I enjoyed seeing.
However, I did have some issues with the characters and that was in regards to their maturity. I will admit it was 10 years since I was at University myself and it was based in the UK but I don’t remember myself or my friends acting in such an immature manner. Maybe I am misremembering it as being much more highbrow that it really was or perhaps my friends and I were not the norm but either way it ensured that I struggled to really relate with the characters as much as I wanted to.
Overall, this was an interesting book and I enjoyed seeing characters in both a positive and negative light even if I did feel that they were a little bit immature for University students. Personally, I suspect this book will appeal to people in their mid-teens as that is the age group of people I think who would really relate with the characters and perhaps therefore gain more from reading it.” ~ David King, on Goodreads.com
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