Call For Book Reviewers

April 22, 2013

Owl Babies

Greetings Friends & Associates:

Regarding my novella (or short story, I have not yet decided) I have a proposal for you. I will send you a chapter of the story provided that you do a write up on Goodreads, Shelfari, or wherever it is that you post your book reviews.

Please note: You don’t have to be a professional book reviewer or even have your blog. Just pls have the ability to string together grammatically correct sentences. Additionally, preference will be given to those with established Goodreads accounts who have reviewed a goodly amount of books over there.

If interested, contact me for further discussion using the following social media:

POB website

Twitter

 

 

 


New Fiction from POB

October 2, 2012

Table of the Mortal Sins by Hieronymous Bosch

Greetings and Salutations POB Readers,

I’m happy to announce that I will be publishing on Kindle, Nook, Apple and Kobo platforms, an interconnected, multi-book series in the dark fantasy/horror/gothic/supernatural/hentai genres. 

The unofficial blurb for the first installment is as follows:

Be careful what you wish for.  The von Dämmerung family has a curious talent for turning any desire into a circle of hell.  Book One of a seven part series, Gula is a tale of excessive consumption and unearthly effect.

 Stay tuned for download availability.


Book & Movie Review | Never Let Me Go

April 9, 2012

NOTE:  If you are consulting this page because you want to know the differences between the book vs. the movie then contact me offline.  I will tell you for a nominal fee.

Never Let Me Go is the name of a dystopian science fiction novel and movie in the Young Adult genre.  It was written in 2005 by Japanese born, British author, Kazuo Ishiguro, and published by the UK’s Faber & Faber, the same house that also published The Republic of Trees. The plot focuses on three protagonists and follows them through their various life stages as they move from childhood through adult.

The story opens with the children -Ruth, Kathy and Tommy- at their school.  At first glance, Hailsham seems to be just like any other English boarding school, and, the children seem to be just like any other children their own age.  Tommy is introduced as a young boy with emotional issues.  He is often bullied by other boys seeking to get a rise out of him.  Ruth is characterized as a very bossy kind of personality who is hopeful for a bright future for herself.  Kathy is the narrator of the story.  She is kind and loving and tends to stand up for those too weak to fight for themselves.  Kathy and Tommy become her closest friends and confidants. 

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the teachers at Hailsham are not the usual, run-of-the-mill kind, and, Hailsham is not a typical boarding school. In time, the reader is subtly made aware of the children’s true purpose.  Miss Lucy is a young teacher and the only “guardian” that the students feel comfortable with.  She informs them during a frank discussion in class one day that the children are clones created to provide organs for non-clones (“Originals.”)  They will eventually become adults, move out of Hailsham to live in government-owned residential complexes, and, then will begin donating organs as they are needed by originals.  By the fourth donation, the children will “complete” the purpose they were created for. Miss Lucy is terminated for her temerity, but the children do not seem to register any particular distress at having discovered their fate.  They are, in fact, mostly resigned to it.

While the students are not taught any marketable skill sets, they are, however, encouraged by the guardians to create various forms of art and poetry.  The artwork is then judged by a woman known only as “Madame,” who then keeps all the best pieces.  The children speculate that Madame keeps their work in a secret gallery of sorts which provides rich fodder for rumors amoung the students, especially Tommy.  As they mature, Ruth, Tommy and Kathy develop close ties with each other, with Ruth and Tommy eventually pairing off as a couple, and, Kathy content to be a friend to both of them despite her growing feelings for Tommy. 

When Ruth, Tommy and Kathy reach age eighteen, they move out of Hailsham to the Cottages.  They meet up with other clones that came from other schools not as privileged as Hailsham.  The Cottages are described as cold and in squalid condition, and otherwise not as comfortable as Hailsham was. Save for a lone groundskeeper, the clones have no contact with anyone in the outside world. They have nothing to do except attend to their own whims, each exploring his own sexuality while waiting for the call for their first donation to come. 

As time passes, Ruth, Tommy and Kathy are informed by two of their housemates of a rumor that Hailsham students may be permitted to “defer” becoming donors for up to three years if they have truly fallen in love. Despite not ever having been any good with art, this rumor plays directly into Tommy’s theory that the artwork Madame had been collecting from them when they were children was designed to be a kind of lie detector test, to determine who was being honest about his true feelings as revealed through his art. Tommy then begins to secretly perfect his drawings in the hopes that he can submit them to Madame for consideration for a deferral.

The same housemates who spoke of the deferment rumor also tell Ruth that the original she was cloned from may be living in Norfolk since they saw a woman there in a shop whom Ruth closely resembles.  The five of them then decide to take a road trip to the town so that Ruth could check out her original, and also, so that Kathy could try to locate another copy of a tape cassette she had favored as a child but had since lost.

When the clones arrive in Norfolk, they locate Ruth’s supposed original, but upon spying her through a shop glass window, Ruth’s physical differences become immediately obvious to her.  Her frustration with not having found her original results in an emotional outburst during which she says that clones are from the human “trash” of society –the dregs that live in homeless shelters and the mentally ill found passed out in gutters and such. Ruth’s distress serves as the catalyst for Kathy to request early departure from the Cottages so that she may become a “carer,” a clone who attends to other clones recovering from organ removal surgery.

In the last third of the book, Kathy has been a carer for about a decade when she runs into an old acquaintance who tells her that Hailsham has closed recently, and, also that Ruth is on her first donation, which hasn’t gone very well.  Kathy then goes to see Ruth for the first time in years and begins caring for her. Ruth knows that her next donation will likely be her last since her health has deteriorated and so she suggests to Kathy that the three of them, including Tommy, take a road trip for old time’s sake to see an abandoned ship in the middle of a marsh.

During this trip, Ruth admits to Kathy and Tommy that she deliberately manipulated Tommy so that he would not seek to explore a relationship with Kathy despite sensing their bond.  She then hands them a slip of paper with an address on it that belongs to Madame, and encourages them to find her to ask for a deferment together since they are in love. Ruth dies shortly after her second donation and then Kathy becomes Tommy’s carer.  She also begins a romantic relationship with him, encouraged by Ruth’s last wish that they find Madame and ask for a deferment. 

By Tommy’s third donation, the two eventually decide to visit Madame to test the rumor to see if they can defer his fourth and probably last donation.  Tommy then selects his best sketches to bring along to be submitted as proof of his feelings for Kathy.  But when they locate Madame, they also find Miss Emily, Hailsham’s former headmistress at her residence as well.  The two reveal to Tommy and Kathy that Hailsham was an experiment to improve the living conditions for clones and otherwise change societal attitudes towards them. Before Hailsham, society at large had been content to view clones as non-human sources of organs. The collecting of the artwork was meant to prove to government talking heads that the clones were not soul-less, but every bit as human as the originals taking their organs.

[ Final scene withheld so as not to spoil it for those who wish to read the book or watch the movie. ]

All in all, I found Never Let Me Go to be a poignant red flag of the direction civilization is likely to take once cloning technology has been perfected sufficient to grow bodies for spare parts independent of a woman’s uterus.

Demand for organ donation continues to outstrip supply exponentially.  The following titles are eye-opening, great reads if you want to expand your knowledge of organ harvesting and the great fortunes made by surgeons, hospitals, and other purveyors of body parts for transplant purposes. Such information will make you strongly reconsider affixing that little donor sticker to the back of your driver’s license. 

Carney, Scott. Red Market

Cheney, Anne. Body Brokers:  Inside America’s Underground Trade in Human Remains

Milliman Research Report.  2010 U.S. Organ and Tissue Transplant Cost Estimates and Discussion

Sharp, Leslie.  Strange Harvest

©2012 Peyton Farquhar and Prattle On, Boyo™.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar and Prattle On, Boyo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Book Review | The Republic of Trees

March 29, 2012

Off the beaten path best describes this story.  But then, I’m no stranger to the characterization myself.

I consider The Republic of Trees written by former Observer pop culture correspondent, Sam Taylor, to be the bastard, red headed step-child offspring of The Blue Lagoon and the Lord of the Flies.  Published by Faber & Faber in the UK in 2005, it is about four British ex pat adolescents living in France who decide to run away together to form their own utopian society.

Louis and Michael are brothers with a tragic past.  With both parents dead, the boys end up living with their unmarried aunt in the south of France. Louis, the elder of the two, has an interest in the French Revolution, while Michael is the dreamer, and, incidentally, the narrator of the story.  The boys live next to a well-to-do family with a daughter close to the boys’ age.  Isobel is the girl-next-door but in name only.  She likes both brothers equally well, but is especially attracted to Louis. Alex is the boys’ other friend who has more brawn than brains.

While age is not mentioned, it is obvious that the protagonists are on the cusp of  their sexual awakening.  The story is punctuated with snippets of Michael’s teenage angst as he struggles to come to terms with not only his own sexual stirrings, but also with his jealousy as he comes to realize that Isobel likes Louis more than she does him. Meanwhile, Isobel engages in subtle behaviors to egg on the brothers to vie for her affections. The full force of the love-triangle does not come into focus until after the four run away to the woods.

Determined to have an adventure before they must accept responsibility and return to school in the Fall, the bored teens speak of creating their own civilization. But for the most part, it is all just talk.  Then one day they decide to escape the ennui and frustation to live on their own terms.

Once on their own, Louis becomes the intellectual leader, dictating the terms of their society.  Alex volunteers to provide the meat and fish they will need to live, and Isobel, being the only female, passively accepts her assigned role as  cook.  Michael is the sole citizen of the new republic.  The four spend their time idling away the moments sunning themselves, swimming, gathering kindling and other materials for a makeshift shelter, and, otherwise benignly re-enacting portions of  18th Century Genevan philosopher Rousseau’s The Social Contract as an after-dinner activity.  Life is fairly uneventful until another young female happens upon the group.

While Joy is not as attractive as Isobel, and suffers under Isobel’s yoke consequently, she makes up for lack of looks on a baser level. Without her to spur them on to a more substantive interpretation of Rousseau’s writing, the group would have probably become quite bored both with themselves as well as their society.  Indeed, Joy brings a decidedly Gothic element to the plot.

I rather enjoyed The Republic of Trees because I found it to be a breath of fresh air from the usual politically correct, environmentally-conscious, feel good-ism, do-gooder mentality that seems to be becoming a focal point in dystopian society stories in the Young Adult genre.  Having said that, as long as you accept that your favorite characters won’t always sail into the sunset with a happy ending, you will like Trees as much as I did.

©2012 Peyton Farquhar and Prattle On, Boyo™.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar and Prattle On, Boyo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Help With Recalling A Book Title

March 25, 2012

ATTENTION READERS:

I need your help. Maybe someone will remember a book title I’m looking for. I read it a couple years ago and can’t recall the name, but following are a few details.

The book in question is in the young adult fiction genre. It’s about four children living in England aged 13/14.  Two boys who are brothers who live with their aunt; a wealthy girl who was their next door neighbor in France, and, another girl. Or maybe they lived in England and moved to France for the summer, I can’t recall, but it doesn’t make much of a difference since these are the only two countries involved. How many books can possibly have the same fact pattern?

The four are friends and decide to run away together to the woods to form their own tribe/civilization. The story is a kind of Blue Lagoon meets Lord of the Flies theme but shrunk down to four protagonists. The brothers are polar opposites of each other. The older one is star athlete/scholar while the younger one is effeminate/creative and not very athletic. The girls are the antithesis of each other as well.   They form their own society based on a philosopher’s writings. I think it was Rousseau.

The book involves some sex and violence, and, being Y/A, was fairly controversial. I think it was published somewhere in the 2000s. The cover of the book had a tree on it.

If you remember the title of this book, please contact me here or just reply in the comment section to this post.  Thx in advance.

Addendum 1

Upon having emailed my question to the illustrious American Library Association, interestingly enough, they were unwillling to help.  I was told that the ALA is a “small organization meant for members.”   It’s always nice to know that an organization like the ALA feels compelled to be a resource of public information but only to dues paying members.

Thanks for being so helpful, ALA.  I will be sure to write a glowing accolade for the org along the same lines as I did for the advice of the former online jobs counselor. Oh and by the by, Prattle On, Boyo has a #2 page ranking on Google and the article just referenced had, and, continues to receive, thousands of hits.

Addendum 2

I was able to obtain the title of the book in question on my own.  A review of the book will be forthcoming.  Stay tuned by liking POB’s social networking page.

Addendum 3

I was eventually able to locate the title on my own.  Please click here to read it.


FSF Novelet Review | A Rose for Ecclesiastes

May 11, 2011

Warning: May Contain Spoilers

A Rose for Ecclesiastes is a short story written by Roger Zelazny and published in the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in November 1963.  Although Sci-Fi fans may already be aware that Zelazny is noted more for his Chronicles of Amber series, Ecclesiastes was nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award in 1964.

Ecclesiastes details the story of Gallinger, who is part of a mission from Earth studying the Martian “high language.” Gallinger is regarded by his boss and co-workers as self-absorbed & arrogant, but nevertheless, sufficiently impresses the Martian Matriarch M’Cwyie to earn an invitation to study the sacred scrolls of Locar located in the Citadel of Tirellian. This is considered an honor as no other human being has been privy to the Martians only written history before because no one else has ever been considered sharp enough to master their high language.

After a few weeks of intense tutelage under M’Cwyie, Gallinger is treated to a sacred dance performed by a young, Martian female named Braxa.  Gallinger is so aroused by Braxa that after the performance, he retires to his quarters and immediately writes a poem about her. Zelazny’s continued usage of metaphor & simile as a vehicle for the visualizations of the storyline kicks into high gear at this point–

In a land of wind and red,
where the icy evening of Time
freezes milk in the breasts of Life,
as two moons overhead–
cat and dog in alleyways of dream–
scratch and scramble agelessly my flight . . .
This final flower turns a burning head.

When he shows M’Cwyie his poem the next day, she doesn’t understand the references to the flower because Mars is an arid planet devoid of flora & fauna, so Gallinger asks the Expedition’s hydroponics man to grow a red rose to better demonstrate his bewitchment with Braxa’s performance.

Gallinger eventually concludes his study of the language and is then given access to the sacred texts.  He is also given a room in the Temple, as well, where he can study the scrolls day or night. During the course of a late night translation session, he finds an intriguing passage that alludes to a sort of  apocalypse among the Martians.

Gallinger is just about to turn in for the night when Braxa shows up in his room wanting to hear the poem he wrote about her. He is a little taken aback given the lateness of the hour and the appearance of impropriety with the young woman, but reads the poem to her anyway.

Braxa is confused as to Gallinger’s reservations and explains to him in not so many words that such morality is no longer necessary as the plague mentioned in the texts has rendered the population sterile so the people aren’t  having sex anymore. Gallinger finishes reading the poem and then lights up a “tube of fire,” offering it to her. One thing leads to another (apparently) and Gallinger the sixty-six year old poet ends up banging Braxa the under-aged, erotic dancer/whore.

As an aside note, this has to the be the lone occurrence in the history of cigarettes where a couple smokes one before they get down to business, as opposed to afterwards.

Long story short– Braxa disappears the next day, much to Gallinger”s chagrin, and then he goes looking for her among the desert dunes. After two days search, he finds her, and not only does she not want to see him, but she also tells him that she is pregnant, and, that the Matriarchs have decided not to allow the pregnancy to progress. In the meantime, the rose Gallinger had asked for has bloomed and he brings it and Braxa with him back to the Temple where he then self-righteously demands to see M’Cwyie to set her straight.

Gallinger somehow manages to overcome the gatekeeper –a seven feet tall, muscular mutant named Ontro- before he can gain access to M’Cwyie & the Matriarchs of Martian society. Once inside the chamber, he launches into a heartfelt tirade against the dis-allowance of Braxa’s pregnancy given that Martian men can no longer reproduce. As evidence of the wrong-headedness, Gallinger cites Earth’s very own Book of Ecclesiastes. Suffice it to say, Gallinger is having none of the whole vanity & vexation of spirit meme.

Whoa –This is probably the strongest argument for statutory rape/forced pregnancy that I’ve ever seen, but stay with me here–

Gallinger concludes his argument and thinks the Matriarchs have voted against him when M’Cwyie informs him that he was successful in persuading them to his side. She then goes on to inform him of the prophecy that spoke of a holy man from the heavens that would come to save the Martians in their last hours if all the Dances of Locar were completed.  He would also defeat the Fist of Malann (Ontro) and bring them life.

Hmm…Megalomaniacal much, Roger?

But Gallinger’s victory is abruptly cut short when M’Cwyie tells him that Braxa ran away to the desert because she feared the prophecy was coming true.  When he clobbered Ontro and the Matriarchs voted, she knew it was unavoidable. But nontheless, Braxa does not love Gallinger– She was merely playing a part in a prophecy.

Gasp! Shock! You mean the hero doesn’t get the girl and live happily ever after?!

Completely deflated and elated at the same time, Gallinger returns to the ship and downs forty-four sleeping pills (random number or significant?) only to be resuscitated long enough later to witness through the port hole window the Aspic leaving Mars behind forever in a vapor trail–B Oh Oh H Oh Oh–

Probably not as dramatic as Gallinger thinks.  I mean, c’mon, guy, what’s a friendly squirt of casual splooge shared between a prototype version of Captain Kirk and a promiscuous, but emotionally unavailable, extraterrestrial floozy? These inter-species couplings don’t ever work out anyway. Be glad you didn’t get a bad case of dick drip, fer crissake!

The full text of Ecclesiastes is found here.

If you enjoyed this review please see also The-End-of-the-World Cafe review written previously.

©2009-2011 Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™ with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Prattle Encore | FSF | Novelet Review

April 25, 2011

[Originally published October 6, 2010]

The following is a review of one of the many, amazing short stories that can be found in the legendary magazine of  Fantasy & Science Fiction.  The publisher generously comp’ed the September/October issue to yours truly to review.

Warning : May Contain Spoilers

Published by Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, and written by Dale Bailey, Eating At The End-of-the-World-Cafe is an ideological descendant of Shirley Jackson’s 1948 creepy thriller, The Lottery.

The protagonist, Eleanor, is an aging, used and abused, worn out former stripper who now ekes out a living waiting tables at the local greasy spoon called the “End of the World Cafe.”  She supplements her piddling wages by stealing money from the cash register to help pay for her ailing, eleven year old daughter’s medications and treatment, but it’s never enough.

One dreary and wet morning while riding the subway to work, Eleanor collides with and spills her coffee on what she initially thinks is just another passenger, but as it turns out, he is one of the elite, black tunic wearing authoritarians of Acheron society.

When she realizes what group he’s with, Eleanor apologizes profusely and tries to clean the coffee from his tunic, but the stranger dismisses her as nonchalantly as he orders the snarling dog at his feet to sit. Although the stranger walks off and seems not to care very much about the coffee stain, Eleanor still can’t shake the feeling that he is watching her sight unseen. It is this incident that sets the overall ominous tone of Cafe.

When she arrives at the diner, Eleanor is met by her busybody co-worker, Noreen, who teases her incessantly about the blue shirted employee of the pit that eats there everyday and who she refers to as, “loverboy,” since she believes he is sweet on Eleanor. Eleanor, meanwhile, has no time for such banter because she is deeply troubled by her life.  “Loverboy” does eventually show up for dinner and attempts to talk to her, but it’s not so much the “move” Noreen thought he’d make on Eleanor as much as it is to warn her.

Carl (“loverboy”) tells Eleanor that he’s been watching her everyday as she collects the full price from the customers, but rings up a lesser amount in the register.  He tells her that he’s not trying to scare her, but Eleanor blithely remarks that she doesn’t know what he is talking about.  She then walks off to the next table to pour coffee, but is as disturbed by his words as she was by the stranger on the train.

Later, during the crush of the dinner hour, Eleanor is occupied with customers when a hand suddenly reaches out from a table that she is passing and grabs her by the elbow.  When she realizes who the hand is attached to, she is instantaneously filled with dread.  The stranger from the train tells her that he has his eye on her and that he overheard her conversation with his “colleague” in the blue shirt.  He says that they are all -one way or another- “in the pit” and that he can make people disappear if he wanted to. He then tells her that his organization is always looking for someone anxious to put their “shoulder” to the “wheel.”

Eleanor remains in place stupefied, and, as the stranger and his friends stand up from the table to leave, she expects to be struck for having spilled the coffee on him earlier, but he deposits a folded white envelope into her breast pocket, instead. He tells her that he can take her away from the diner, and then walks out the door. Meanwhile, the silence is broken by Tank, the owner and cook of Cafe, as he announces the next order up.  He then tells Eleanor that he needs to see her when she gets a moment.

Tank is sitting in his cramped and dingy office counting stacks of money and reviewing journal tapes when she walks in.  He makes small talk at first -asking about her daughter, Anna- and then asks her to sit down.  Eleanor says she’s fine where she stands, but then Tank asks her if she’s stealing from him.  It’s clear that he knows about the missing money, but doesn’t want to file a police report. Instead, he tells Eleanor that she could have the money, but that a man has his “needs.”

Frightened, frustrated, and completely burned out on her life, Eleanor ends up in tears in the diner’s bathroom staring at an old, creased photo of Anna before she got sick. As she is reminiscing about their lives during better times, the envelope the stranger gave her falls out of her pocket. She notices the words, Application for Employment written on the flap.  Realizing that she has another option, Eleanor then finishes feeling sorry for herself and returns to work almost stumbling over Carl on the way out of the bathroom.

Seeing that she is visibly on-edge, he coaxes her to sit down in his booth with him and orders coffee for them both. Carl asks if she afraid of him and about Anna, but Eleanor brushes off his concerns and tells him that she is too tired to play games. Then she tells him to have a nice life since she probably won’t see him around the diner anymore after tonight.

He then tells her that he has all the money he will ever need and that he wants to take care of her but without any strings attached before he disappears, but she is angered and resents his assumption that she either wants or needs anyone to help and storms out of the diner.  She then heads directly to the guardhouse through the chain link fence surrounding the pit and tells the old man behind the counter that she’s there about the job. The old man asks for her application and she slides it across to him after she fills in her name on the only blank line on the paper.

To her astonishment, the old man crumples the paper and tells her that the app isn’t very complicated and hands her a fresh one. When he sees that Eleanor still doesn’t get it, he explains that they don’t need her name since they already have it.  They need someone else’s name.  Eleanor then arrives at the horrifying realization about the job and proceeds to write a name on the blank line.

Overall, I thought Eleanor’s life was a rather accurate portrayal of the type of less than optimal circumstances that a lot of us have to live with whether we’d like to admit to it or not. She is deeply dissatisfied with her situation, and, although she struggles to find the positives, the fact remains that life just keeps handing her a shit sandwich time after time.  Case in point:  Her own daughter doesn’t even appreciate the lengths she goes to in order to finance her medical care, and, prefers, instead, the sitter’s company over her mother’s.  Further, the single, promising instance that something else does come along that seems like a way out results in another layer of grief that confines her that much more irrevocably to the circumstances of her wretched life.  In Eleanor’s case, there is no easy way out of the mind-numbing,  soul-sapping woe, and, for that matter, for those who may relate to the tale, and, that’s what makes this story so compelling, in my opinion.

[The full length version of The Lottery can be found here.]

©2010 Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™ with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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