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James van Loon besides being a novelist is a university psychology instructor, chartered psychologist, and international consultant. His artistic and scientific journey is one of many divergent paths, spanning a brief career as a radio disc jockey in his native USA, an introspective experience as a monk, and academic studies of literature and psychology in several European and North American universities. His peregrinations have taken him to the cobbled streets of old European towns speckled with cafes and compelling characters, where he nurtured his passion for research and writing. He has lectured at universities in Italy, Spain, Germany, England, Sweden, and the U.S.A. where he has also taught creative writing at the Writers Garret.
on Nov. 26, 2014 :
The Smashwords edition starts off with the cover, then several blank pages, then Praise for Blue Magic Woman. Lots of praise, in fact. Most of the praise come from Sweedish sources, but there is one from Goodreads, showing that the publisher has mined deep for praise to include in this edition.
The copyright page shows this book was first published in 1997 with the title Echoes From the Edge in Great Britain by Oxford Publishing. This American edition with the title Blue Magic Woman was first published in 2013 by Stilnovo Publishing. Stilnovo Publishing offers itself as an expert at international publication and translation. After reading the blurb on the first page of their website, this reviewer wouldn’t let them touch my prose.
I was impressed by the cover art taken from Taras Loboda’s “Blue Portrait”. He is a Ukrainian born artist living in Prague, and specializing in haunting portraits of women in monochromatic themes.
The first page of chapter one was an indication that no one trained in graphic design looked at this e-book edition before publication, although e-book formatting for all the different platforms is a daunting task.
I was not so impressed with the writing or the narrative technique. I skipped ahead several chapters and found no improvement. I will take the word of others that the story is intriguing. I couldn’t get through the first chapter. There may be an issue with the translation, although I saw no mention that this was a translation. The author was born in the USA and liv eves in the UK, so translation should not be an issue. Paola Bortolotti appears to be the author’s wife, and a translator, but her role in the publication of this book is unclear.
Finally let me offer this first paragraph from the book that you may judge the writing for yourself:
Spotted in the headlights is a young man sitting in the snow between the track rails. With the squeal of steel, he braces himself for the impact of the train blasting towards him. Two muscular policemen yank him quickly off the tracks, then stumble in the whirling vortex of blinding snow as the bullet train speeds by them. After a fierce struggle, the young man is overpowered and placed in a patrol car.
James van Loon has this to say of the narrative style:
“…besides being a novelist, I am a clinical psychologist, and this novel is written from the perspective of a protagonist, Michael, who is schizophrenic. As a chartered psychologist I have worked primarily with schizophrenics. Michael’s experience of his world and his language is very fragmented and his mind is bombarded with images, often very crazy images and he also has a distorted sense of time and space.
The novel attempts to give a sense of Michael running across the pages in paranoid projections with fragmented scribbling. In the beginning of the novel it is written: His mind is filled with crazy canvases as he remembers all the pictures Vincent painted manically as a patient in the Arles asylum in France. Michael compares the pictures Vincent painted in a frantic state with his writing this morning where his words describe his feelings with colored image after image, impressionistic metaphor after metaphor, black flower simile after sun flower simile. Michael’s writing in his head, like on paper, is crowded with the threatening images of the macabre monastery murders in the Alpine Abbey where he was recently a novice, and now he feels even more determined that he will also follow Vincent’s last fatal brush stroke. And just as Vincent had crazy thoughts, Michael starts to wonder if he does too; are the memories that he holds in his head his memories.
Originally, the co-writer, Paola Bortolotti, who took the voice of the Blue Magic Woman, and I who took the voice of Michael, wanted to have a prologue explaining the reason for the narrative style, but the editor in England where the novel was first published thought it was better to weave this idea into the text and not tell the reader how to read this novel with a prologue. The novel is soon to be published in Swedish as well, and I have again been told it is better to have this weaved into the story as it is in the English editions.”
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Sep. 23, 2014 :
Explores an unknown territory with intelligence, compession and memorable falir
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on July 31, 2013 :
I read this over the course of one day. It is a stunning masterpiece of psychological, spiritual and sexual turmoil. A masterpiece and highly recommended. James van Loon and Paola Bortolotti should be honored and highly commended for this work of art.
(reviewed the day of purchase)