Thursday, January 26, 2006

The bon mama weighs in

Here is what the mama had to say about my first novel:

Harvey & Eck: A Book Review
posted by bon on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006

"I'm not sure that I have ever actually consciously read a review for a book. I just read whatever seems interesting, or more often go by what friends have recommended. To that end I was gonna check out a few proper book reviews before my own attempt so as to not completely shame myself before all of Internet-dom. Then I remembered the resume I posted to get this gig in the first place... check it. If Erin had wanted a professional review she would have gotten someone like Psychic Dumb Dumb, if she wanted a learned one? Garrett would be the guy to get. Huh... and oh yeah, she did.

Sometimes I'll check out what a book says about itself on the back or the flyleaf, but tend to skim over words like "compelling," "edgy," or "gritty" and usually stay away from books that consider themselves "sexy," "sophisticated," or "sultry." Ooops... I just looked at the back of Harvey & Eck and saw two of the three strikeout words. In this case it's ok though because those words are on the cover, albeit the back cover and for me the cover does not exist. As a former graphic artist the cover sticks in my craw, but I'll get back to that.

Harvey & Eck is an epistolary novel (heh, got that from a fly leaf description of Lady Catherine by Jane Austen). This means that the whole book is written through letters, as in post office letters. This is something that could so easily come off unwieldy and awkward, and occasionally the book does catch a little on it's own form of delivery, but frankly this is a minor annoyance. It's the indomitable Harvey and fastidious Eck, their warmth and humanity, that drives the storyline and causes you to turn the pages.

I, for one believe absolutely in the power that writing has to change your life. Harvey & Eck chronicles these changes beautifully and tenderly through the most unlikely of correspondence. Harvey has a secret that she must tell someone, so she chooses a name at random from the phone book and begins writing. As you read her letters you will discover she has a few serious problems as all the while you fall in love with her honesty and spirit. Eck is the object of her letter writing, a man of definite OCD tendencies... and a pure, if almost dead heart. It is her over-the-top and slightly off-color missives that kick starts old Eck and before he knows what has happened he is living and breathing once again.

As a mother and Christian woman I must note that the book is peppered with explicit language, "F" bombs and the like. None of the characters appear to have any problems with pre-marital sex and relatively minimal moral difficulty with infidelity. For me the language and amorality are overshadowed by the value of the story of metamorphosis and growth, but there ya have it. In other words if this kind of thing bugs you, consider yourself warned.

Back to that cover. I know I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover but DANG! the way I see it this cover is miles off the content. The only elements of the artwork that have any place is the motorcycle and the moody quality of the landscape. The computer generated image of a woman with painted on jeans? Wha...? This figure is everything that Harvey is not. Yes Harvey is a sexual creature but her sensuality is visceral and mortal. This CGI gal is pure fourteen-year-old boy fantasy; glossy where our heroin is vulnerable and as contrived as our Harvey is genuine. I think it's quite telling that the worst criticism I have for this book is the cover art.

Harvey & Eck is straight up, honestly delivered literature. I'd loan you my copy, but it's signed and I'm afraid you'd keep it. As it is, the cover is already looking a little beat and today I had to pry apart the top corner of pages 39-50 that had been stuck together by what appears to be smashed and dried banana."

Bon, the humble author can't thank you enough. Now then, our man Garrett is still going and going.

And here is a link to Psychic Dumb-Dumb's review for those who care to take a peek.


josh williams said...

Erin I still have not read your novel, I ask however in advance, an inscription. To save time and money, just tell me what to write.
Left alone I lean towards screed and...well your pretty safe, no matter what I write my handwriting is of symbolism that you would not be able to read my scrawl/symbolism/Eupoh....JW

FLAMINGO1 said...

I liked Bon's comments regarding the power that writing has to change your life.

What little I truly know about you, Erin, I believe that to be an important statement about you. From my vantage point, it seems that writing has had a profound effect on you in much the same way it did both Harvey and Eck.

Bon your insight on this point was excellent.

I understand that you are a mother and a Christian woman, but the reality of the world is that people speak and behave this way. I am glad that you were able to overcome your opinions on those issues to see that the value of the book was more important than those aspects.

I think you did a damn fine job Bon!

jamwall said...

congrats on getting your novel out there erin! very nice accomplishment!

Satan said...

erin obrien

i have completed my assigned task

what is next

do i tag someone else

bon said...

hey thanks Mr. Flamingo! Truth to tell I was not always a mother or a Christian, and there was a time that I could give ol' Harv a run for her money on so many different levels.

But yeah... there is a whole demographic out there that can't get past the eff word to appreciate a great tale, or even a sermon. Then again there are those folks who will give it a go if they are forewarned of this kinds thing but also feel there will be a payoff in the end. I hope that I conveyed that there is sufficient payoff for those who might take the plunge. I thought long and hard about that particular paragraph.

jungle jane said...

I have just finished reading Harvey and Eck for the second time. this time i finished my new signed copy all the way from the author's own hands.

i am truly deeply touched for reasons known to the author.

Harvey and Eck is outstanding - i salute you Erin O Brien...

PDD said...

Had I known I could write a review without it having to be in "proper" review format, I wouldn't have been so damn nervous. And since I THOUGHT it was going to be dutifully linked to Erin's website, I made sure it had to be in proper format.

Very interesting review, Bon. I enjoyed it immensely.

Erin, should I be so lucky the second time around (2nd novel) could I please do a review such as Bon's or Garrett's?

kellywalters said...


Erin O'Brien said...

Josh: I will check into your pages with a proper inscription

Flamingo and jamwall and Roxi and Jane: thanks, guys, from the bottom of my heart

PDD: wow ... the next one!

bon: they like you! they really like you!

Satan: I do thy bidding at thy will

Stephanie Powers said...

What's all this about you being a Christian? Isn't Satan a frequest blogger here?

josh williams said...

I am working on a review it may take awhile since I'm busy with the putting food on the table thing. ing insists, so I will post and let you know as soon as I do and then you can say. "Fuck no I dont want you reviewing my book! Freak"!
I am sending my rejection letter in before my work has been read, it saves us both time and embarrasement. I'm very pragmatic and thoughtful, mom said. Kind Regards JW

Satan said...

frequent visitor

i am thinking about moving in with erin

Bloodgood said...

hello, lookin forward to readin your book! It came highly recomended to me by a pink bird. I just ordered it so hopefully, sometime in the next couple of weeks I'll be able to understand whats goin on around here.

Erin O'Brien said...

Steph: methinks you might have me and me reviewer mixed up. As you well know, the lord done lost me some time ago ...

Satan: howzabout Monday we pick out the furniture?

JW: Inscription is posted at your place as promised.

bloodgood: I thank you. My Amazon rankings thank you. My husband thanks you.

josh williams said...

Thanks for the inscription, its pretty rad! JW