Neil M Campbell
The story of Beauty and the Beast has fascinated me from childhood, I was swept away by La belle et la Bete. Still am every time I see it but it wasn't until the following incident occurred in my own life that my fascination with the legend took a potentially literary form.
Some years ago, my son and I were having a midday drink in a City of London tavern. A group of fellow customers, lunch break evidently over, started to head our way - making for the exit, which happened to be close by us. We stood aside to make room for the party to pass.
Checking for pretty girls as the troupe filtered by, my attention was snagged by the appearance among them of the ugliest female I had ever seen in my life. The words just came out - too loud: "How ugly is that?"
"She heard you, Dad, she heard you," my son protested, appalled and disgusted.
And I knew she'd heard me - I had seen it in her stricken eyes as she passed. I never will forget that look.
The incident will haunt me to my dying day. I often wonder how she is - how life has treated her, how she's coping with the burden of her looks. I hope she's found love and happiness, someone to adore her. This novel is a tribute to her, that stranger, and personal act of exorcism.
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Smashwords book reviews by Neil M Campbell
- American Dead
on May 25, 2014
Wow, blown away by this beautifully written, elegiac, lyrical, work of art. Poetic metaphor redeems the squalor, the meticulously rendered observation is objective yet pulsating with life, real and unadorned, yet each character is invested with heroic qualities. The rendering is vivid, immediate, each metaphor a joy of originality and imagination. We live in the trailer park with the protagonists, the 'object lesson', right next to the roaring vacuum of the ravening and devouring gorge, while the trees, the forest, the wilderness which haunts the book, crowds in on all sides.
As the book proceeds the trailer park grows clearer and clearer in our minds, the stench, the claustrophobia, the hopelessness, the terminality, but above all the humanity, viewed through the lens of the compassion which imbues every line.
Kimberley, Alice, Jeffrey, Nathan, Michael, the list goes on, each realised as a fully fledged personality, we love them every one, even Robert!
Go, read, devour! You won't regret it.
- The Cannibal's Prayer
on June 09, 2014
With The Cannibal's Prayer, PW Cooper pulls off a breathtaking, accomplished, experimental, audacious, high wire act. This is nothing less than a study in the theory of the novel, of the role of aesthetics in the creative process, by a mature writer, passionately in love with words in a disciplined way. In love with love, but non-sentimentally, with clear eyed humanity and compassion.
Emotionally literate, intensely literary, this paean to writing, holds one in thrall throughout, this reviewer wept at the end at the sheer beauty evoked by the words, a rare experience nowadays. Probably the one phrase that sums up the book is Beauty of Language. At all times PW Cooper respects the reader.
Discipline is the spine of the book, discipline and the extraordinary emotional vocabulary which makes it throb like a live thing - it is live, it lives, palpable in one's hands and continues to live in one's imagination.
Beautifully written as one has come to expect from this writer, PW Cooper makes experimental forays in two directions - passages of stream of consciousness so craftily rendered they flow clearly without punctuation of any kind, even more so as the book progresses, and the rendering of dialogue into verse, Christopher Fry style. This latter experiment I wasn't so sure about, at least in Kindle format, might work better in print. But that's a detail, both experiments are technically accomplished in the execution.
Please read this book - it will remind you of what writing is about and that the novel, when executed as superbly as this one, is an art form second to none.
- The Pursuit of Emma
on July 02, 2014
This is great fun, fast paced, well written, with an engaging self-deprecatory narrator. Humorous asides and novelistic insights abound.
As another reviewer points out, there are editing issues but nothing that a careful re-reading of the book won't sort. How Tom's friend, Jack, got so high in the police at such a young age remains a mystery but that's only a carping detail.
Thanks for a rollicking read, Chris! A welcome reminder of the high standard we indies are capable of.
Very much looking forward to the sequel - down Mexico way, I believe.
- The Eulogist
on Aug. 18, 2014
The Eulogist is pure delight from start to exquisite finish. Sham mourner, insurance fraud investigator, chapel Casanova, opportunist par excellence, deeply rooted in rootlessness, philosopher Charlie Sandors bends life to his existentialist whim in this insightful, deeply thought out, meditation on the nature of identity.
Packed with fresh takes on the human condition, this life affirming book draws the reader into the deeply serious tongue-in-cheek mind of a resourceful orphan in a very entertaining, laugh out loud, exercise in fun, while at the same time gently nudging us to take a look at our own life and attitudes.
Liz McKinney-Johnson wields her psychology lightly as she meshes the various strands of her protagonist's personality and background into a perfectly rounded, balanced character, who leaps off the page into our affections - Charlie has found the key to living his psyche to the full, and takes us along on the joyous ride.
The other characters are equally consummately realised. Lily in particular will remain with me for a long time - a deeply moving study of a woman bereft, courageous, torn between public confidence and private diffidence - dutiful, tender and loving in the service of others.
Altogether a wonderful achievement - I came away smiling and am smiling still . . .