So, the reviews are starting to come in now for “Womyn Do: The Healing of JOHNNY R3BEL.” I’m actually kind of surprised that the reviews are this positive so far because this story is what some (including me) might call “experimental” or “avant-garde.” The avant-garde literary tradition includes such authors as Robert Coover, Donald Barthelme, John Barth, and David Foster Wallace. The basic idea of this approach is to question the normal methods of storytelling themselves in order to try to shed greater light on the human condition since much of how we live our lives is governed by storytelling and the ways in which stories are normally told. It also attempts to provide greater delight for a reader who may be bored with the traditional modes of storytelling.
However. (And it’s a big HOWEVER.) Unlike the authors mentioned above, my story is by an author who does not have an MFA, is not endorsed by academia in any way, and is independently published–meaning no agent, no editor, no sales team at a big publishing company to convince folks who read literary fiction that this would be worth their time. That being the case, it’s hard for a story like this to find an audience that might be open to and understanding of what it is trying to do. Social proof being what it is, in a field like this, the consumer expects there to be some kind of “approval” or “selection” process in order to convince them that there is merit to the product. Normally, you would have an experienced and savvy marketing team out there trying to convince all of the influencers in this market segment that the work is worthy of their time.
This is a constant struggle for me as a writer. I normally work on literary fiction anyway, and this particular story is even more “out there” than what I’ve written and published in the past. When you put something out into the universe, you’re never really quite sure what’s going to come back, but this little project seemed even riskier than usual.
So, the nice reviews have been surprising. Here are some of the highlights from them as of today, December 31, 2015:
“Explores profound themes without losing the kinds of exciting plotlines that keep a reader engaged in a story….it is this resolution of a plight that makes for some of the most winningly bizarre verbiage and thoughts and reading to come along in a while.
Not having read other works by this author is a disadvantage in that this kind of story takes many risks – and succeeds. Is that style, or is this a one-stop show? Time will tell and it will be important to see how he can carry out a full length novel….The man has talent for sure. Let’s see where it takes him – and us.” – Grady Harp
“This is not a book for the faint of heart, nor for those who are easily offended by some rather off-color subject matter or speech. Marcopolos is a very unique author, and his earlier published work is evidence of that as well. By striking at the core of some serious issues that we face as two very different genders, the author may be slightly boorish at times, but he is concise and passionate, and endlessly creative. For such a brief and fascinating read, Womyn Do is something that will stick in your memory, as Johnny is not a character that anyone will soon forget. I can’t say I’ll immediately dig into this author’s other work, but I appreciate any writer with a one-of-a-kind voice, and that is certainly what he has. Overall, nicely done, but seriously weird….. the kind of book that makes me remember just how wild and wonderful the literary world can be.” – John J. Staughton
“I found this to be an excellent portrayal of how we are often our own worst inhibitor to joy and how self doubt and past disappointments can hinder our vision of our true selves. I like the way the two people connected and then the insecure one started to see himself through the eyes of the other after allowing himself to be truly open and vulnerable and in that moment his true self shined and he realized he was worthy and beautiful.” – Sherry Thompson
“Johnny Rebel certainly isn’t your run-of-the-mill protagonist – not by any stretch. He favors red pants and thick, black eyeliner – a standout combination, to be sure – and rationalizes his unusual choices in wardrobe and personal aesthetics with the rhetorical, “Women can do it. Why can’t I?” Why not indeed. And who knew that there were those who practised in the psychological-vaginal arts or that such a thing even existed? Clearly, not I nor probably the average Joe. While Womyn Do can hardly be described as a mainstream read, the author, Frank Marcopolos, can never be accused of not having a sense of humor, especially with names like Cherry Emerson Humpsum. As for his literary prose? It can pretty much be summed up in the following few sentences: “However, the truth was that each pants pair had a secret, symbolic meaning to JOHNNY, one he’d never reveal to anyone. Woven together across the fabric of time, they constituted a whole picture of one man’s pant-wear, sure, but there was also an elevated context to consider while blood-letting or sharting softly into your office stability ball.” Hardly your average reading fare but for those readers with a quirky sense of humor, it should be right up your alley.” – Marta Cheng
“I had no idea what I was getting into with this book, but upon the recommendation of my son, I dug in for what I expected to be an “interesting” read, as I know that his taste in books is often different than mine. Fortunately, what I found was a clever, sharp-witted and unique story that genuinely made me think about gender relations in a new way. The comfort of the author to draw bizarre parallels and craft his prose to be both comedic and smart was appreciated, and while some of the writing leaned towards the “crass”, it was never done for shock value. I particularly enjoyed the writing style itself, which was reminiscent of Tom Robbins at times, particularly in the highly creative comparisons, metaphors, and other literary tools that Marcopolos clearly has at the tips of his fingers. A bit too much of a sexual edge to some of the scenes, but there was an undeniable value in the message behind the story, providing a refreshing new look at an ancient discussion – what it means to be a man and a woman in this ever-changing world.” – Veritas Vincit
“Womyn Do: The Healing of JOHNNY R3BEL” is available for Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. If you enjoy avant-garde literary fiction, it may just tickle your fancy. One thing seems to be sure from the reception it has received — it’s different from what’s out there. So if you’re tired of the same old-same old, again, it could be just the thing to quench your literary thirst.