S. E. Mann
S.E. Mann lives and breathes in Tokyo, Japan. There, he masquerades as an actor, director, writer, and sometimes teacher, all of which he loves doing but with as little effort as possible.
Mr. Mann is currently finishing-up an independent feature film on which he has spent countless hours, days, months, and years 'finishing-up.' He spends much of the rest of his time riding his motorcycle, hiking in the Japanese mountains, drinking enormous amounts of green tea, and working in media.
Hoping to someday reach the level of being relentlessly pursued by a stalwart investigator obsessed with his capture, Mr. Mann is currently content with simply being hounded by a local chapter of the Ladies Flower Arrangement Society.
A graduate of a large, well known, very liberal ivy-covered northeastern American university in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, S. E. Mann has voted Democrat and Republican in the past and hopes someday to run for public office himself.
A lover of language great and small, he subscribes to the styles of Buckley over O'Reilly, Paar over Maher, and, 'round midnight, Carson over anyone.
Saddened but not discouraged by the steep decline in quality and message from Hollywood, Mr. Mann hopes to add his voice to a resurgence in the industry for the kind of films, the great movies that Americans were known for around the world.
S. E. Mann is not his real name.
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Smashwords book reviews by S. E. Mann
- The Backup
on July 04, 2010
Eleven-year-old Theo has accidentally discovered a prohibited item in a suburban neighborhood in a dystopian future. While adventuring in his neighborhood, Theo acts as a second, a reserve or substitute, or "backup" for his more brave friend Matt, not unlike Guy Montag, who is a backup to Professor Faber in Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451". Theo's other close relationship is with his Grandpa, a character who has an uninterrupted memory. Grandpa remembers the dangerous neighbors Ellen and Richard and how they came to a bad end. Grandpa remembers automobiles, before shuttles replaced them. Grandpa mostly remembers his own career as an educator; a college teacher in a remote past very different from the present. He remembers being able to read without using State-audited electronic equipment, where the written word is never concrete and can always be altered to suite the State's Orwellian purposes. Grandpa is fed up with text that changes and not being able to drive his own car. Grandpa has had it.
After Theo's Grandpa bestows the taboo item to Theo, he gives him special instructions in a plastic envelope on what to do with the item. In this way, Theo becomes the backup to his Grandpa and a continuation of his intact memory.
"Backup" is not any cautionary tale: we are not just warned against the dangers of conformity and censorship; we can see the parallels between this view of the future and our own time with Wikipedia and the Internet. This is an excellent short story, I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys science fiction or realistic fables.
Literary review by S.S. Hudgins
- Night Vision
on July 04, 2010
Central character Sgt Robert Briggs is on a mission in modern-day Afganistan where things are not what they seem. Protagonist and narrator Briggs is a divorced soldier with an ear infection and a pain in the neck. "Brig" is U.S. Marine-speak for "prison" and Briggs occupies a series of prisons in this story: first in the claustrophobic desert storm, then in the confined interior of the rescue biplane, and then in the infirmary supporting Corporal Mitch. The trials of war and the battlefield are interrupted halfway into the story by a small, but key aside from Briggs:
"...I'd have work to do, chores, when I was a kid and I'd be looking up at the stars. 'What do you see up there?' My mom used to ask me, in that loving, forgiving way only a mom can, when she'd catch me looking up at the sky on winter nights. There I'd be, before dinner, out on the porch, straddling the thick wooden railing and holding onto the whitewashed post, leaning backwards and out, head up toward the heavens, looking for something...."
This is a good narrative, reminiscent of Hemingway's early stories. It has momentum, and is technically very good--author clearly knows about the guns, airplanes, radios and other particulars of modern day and historical warfare. The writing is good, sometimes VERY good:
"The Rolls Royce power plant sprang into sudden symphony of noise and smoke like somebody poured ice cold water onto boiling rocks and they instantly turned into a roaring grizzly bear on his hind legs."
"A small dark line was visible like a pen mark on a large wrinkled sheet."
The character development is excellent on the whole, and the dialogue usually rings true. It needs to be made clear that Group Captain C. Aubrey Haversham, is Rupert Brooke and not Terry-Thomas. Without care, a character like Haversham quickly drifts into stereotype.
Night Vision: Is it gear lost on a modern battlefield in a sandstorm, or is it a metaphor for a sight glimpsed in the night sky from a boyhood porch in Illinois way back when? In either case, it is a brilliant short story that belongs in the "New Yorker" or "Atlantic Monthly" or "New Republic". I enjoyed reading it.
Literary review by Stan Hudgins
- The Carrion Trap
on July 04, 2010
The Carrion Trap
"Tell her I'll be waiting in the usual place
With the tired and weary and there's no escape
To need a woman you've got to know
How the strong get weak, and the rich get poor."
----Bryan Ferry "Slave To Love" single, April 1985
In reading "The Carrion Trap", I was at first reminded of Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel "The Secret Garden" where the theme of the story is an enclosed garden as a symbolic life force, causing the regeneration of an entire family. Here, in "The Carrion Trap", on the contrary, the enclosed garden ominously portends the disintegration of a family: a couple who are "clearly...not a good match."
Well-off modern suburbanite Franklin Plimpton is building a crow-catcher for his wife Kara's garden at their home in New England. We hear the story from next-door neighbor, Roger, who doesn't tell us much about what is going on: he maintains a breezy tone, like a gossipy John Cheever story about old preppies living in Connecticut. "How awful about Kara and Franklin, did you hear what happened?" We are free to read all kinds of things into their story. Maybe in one of their arguments Franklin killed Kara and dumped her body into the cistern under the gazebo, then made his escape in his sailboat to Gaspe, Canada; the one place he had been happy a long time ago. Or maybe Kara just left Franklin for good this time; with his carrion trap of tools and projects and half-finished dreams.
"The Carrion Trap" is a multivalent story with many levels of meaning. Superficially, it is a statement about the entanglements of a certain kind of domesticity: the crow-catcher of marriage has enabled crow Kara to ingest carrion Franklin "until the food runs out." Both Kara and Franklin are victims of this trap. On a deeper level, the theme of "The Carrion Trap" is the duality of human nature: decorous social personae contrasted against profound inner corruption. In either case, this is a brilliant diary of the alienation felt in modern suburbia. I enjoyed reading this and recommend it highly. Enthusiastic ten out of ten!
Literary review by Stan Hudgins