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Robert Rosell was born in Montreal, Canada in 1953 and is a graduate of Trent University, McGill University, and the University of Southern California. He has enjoyed careers as a high school teacher, theater director, university instructor, writer, video director, and children’s media producer. He served as the president of three educational media production companies where he wrote and directed over 50 award-winning films and videos. Virtually Yours, Jonathan Newman is his first novel. Robert and his family live in the spectacular Pacific Northwest.
on April 22, 2012 :
Seduction, both overt and subtle is laced throughout every chapter of this page turner. Virtually Yours, Jonathan Newman is a story of a multi-generational family that gets caught up in the seductive powers of easy money, recreational sex, and a web of denial. Add to this the manipulation of a corrupt corporation, and the lure of an "if it feels good, do it" futuristic society, and you have a thriller that captures your heart and mind.
You may want to begin this book by reading the endnotes first. The notes describe the state of the larger society in which the story of the Newman family is set. This chilling version of America is so very disturbing because it is a plausible extension of the dynamics manifesting in society today. Future America is a place that appeals to the lower order instincts of humanity. The brave new world that takes shape after the Great Change is neither brave nor is it new. The debauchery that once occurred on the down low is now publicly endorsed and proudly performed without conscience or conflict.
Read the book. Recommend it to your friends and family. Make it your book club selection of the month. Use the discussion questions at the end of the book to explore its many dimensions and ethical dilemmas. I fear this book is a fairly accurate predictor of the future of our nation. I hope it will serve as a wake up call for the listless masses who are being swept along in the current tide of selfishness and narcissism at play in the not so invisible undercurrent of our society today. Wake up. Pay attention. Engage in activism, for the environment described is the world our grandchildren will need to survive.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Nov. 08, 2011 :
Robert Rosell’s novel is a wonderfully concocted novel blended from of all kinds of literary ingredients. I’ll start with the socio-political landscape - the setting. The corporate greed and immorality that exists today takes the next baby step forward, nurtured by apathy and unhindered power. It’s Orwell time; it’s the Great Change; it’s scary close! The social safety net has been turned in a web of limited choices where the citizenry are forced to do undesirable and sometimes hideous things to eke out a living. This is the touch point. This is where we meet the Newmans. Their dilemma hinges on a life or death matter that parallels situations that many of us unfortunately face today. What emerges from Rosell’s well-crafted story is the understanding that one can refuse to enter the arena and see beyond double binds - the catch-22s. The journey to liberation and back to individualism is not an easy one. Do not fear - the Newmans are a determined bunch. Their craziness and spunk, their moments of despair, their Everyman mien is highlighted via the clear and image-rich writing. At first, you may berate the Newman clan and friends but if you have any liberal bone in your body, you’ll eventually cheer them on.
The genre is modal which makes connecting the dots of thriller, quest, political commentary, adventure, and sci-fi, a Zen experience. The story components point to deep caves that beg to be explored. To his credit, I think the author resisted the temptation to go story spelunking and stayed disciplined. My guess - a sequel or trilogy is in the works.
In summary, you’ll enjoy this book. Take note of the edgy feeling that builds in your gut as you reach the final chapters. There’s a metal taste of weird science and other practical evils that can sour your peace of mind. As Flint Sky says to his son Jaguar Paw in Apocalypto, “Fear is a sickness. It will crawl into the soul of anyone who engages it.” Do not fear. Hoist the rally flag for the flawed yet heroic characters you’ll meet. Fight the Great Change by rallying to the true essence of the human spirit with inspiration from the Newmans.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on July 26, 2011 :
Virtually Yours, Jonathan Newman is the real thing -- a funny, engaging, provocative thriller about an ordinary family swept up in the wake of political currents they don't really understand but are nonetheless forced to deal with. Robert Rosell has created a truly original (and occasionally harrowing) story, and he's given us wonderful, believable characters to root for. (The three generations of women in the Newman family are especially well-drawn, and the grandmother, in particular, is one of the funniest, most moving characters I've come across in years.) The novel deftly combines domestic drama, corporate crime, and political satire, ultimately providing an illuminating look at the dystopian future brought about by the triumph of groups like the Tea Party. Rosell keeps his touch light, but his seriousness of purpose shines through. VYJN could well be the Brave New World of our time.
(reviewed the day of purchase)