Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Amazon Kindle Giveaway

Last month, I had tried to offer the new Amazon Kindle Giveaway for Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona.

What initially started as a "why not?" type of a thing out of boredom quickly escalated, and the first 20 copies I had offered were claimed in a matter of 24 hours or so. I was surprised. Apparently, I still have fans out there.

Considering that there were many people who had entered but were not selected, I decided to give them one more chance and offered an extra 50 copies. The winners are selected at random by Amazon, and there is no obligation or purchase necessary to enter the giveaway.

If you would like to give it a try, you can enter here: Amazon Giveaway

Your information is not viewed or accessible by me, or anyone other than Amazon (which already has all of your info when you sign it), so there is not need to worry about any author spam.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Clarence Olgibee by Alan S. Kessler - a review

 The best independent book I've read in a long time.

Behind the unassuming title, Clarence Olgibee, hides a thought-provoking, multifaceted work of literature, which braves to take on a multitude of uncomfortable issues from a dark chapter in the American history. And dare it does, head on.  

Clarence Olgibee, the center figure in this work, is not properly introduced until the second chapter, his entry delayed by a murder taking place thirty years later.

And so the story opens with a murder—a racially inspired murder nonetheless. The sensitive reader who worries about political correctness is likely going to be appalled by the time the murder takes place, but rest assure that the author's intentions are not racially motivated. Like a ball of yarn that has to be untangled, the story follows the twisted paths presented by an omniscient narrator as he observes alternating protagonists from the one strand to the center where the ball becomes whole again as the reader untangles the vermiculated threads to the common story.

Let me be clear that, in this story, there are no heroes. The protagonists have their baggage and their skeletons, and are as diverse as the cultural fabric of history. The story takes place at a time of crossroads — a time when segregation was (in theory) on its way out, a time when the unprivileged had hoped for opportunities, and the privileged held on to the old days. In between were those who could care less, and those who did not fit in either society yet thought themselves better than those of their own race. And yet, there were those of power and status who just could not let change take place without putting up a fight.

The story of Clarence, however, is not a story of a middle class black teen fighting for justice in an unjust world. Far from it. The story of Clarence is a story of ignorance, prominently featured on both sides of the racial divide. It is a story of crushed dreams, but not of dreams of equality. It is a story of vanity, insecurity, desire, and damnation. It is a story of people being used for agendas, and a story of disappointments. It is a story of status quo, and the individual's inability to break it.

But I do not want to make this sound as if Clarence's story is a story of the Civil Rights Movement. For it is not. And while the multiple protagonists I mentioned earlier include middle class black teens, upper class black teen, middle class white teens, and the upper crust of white conservative society, among others, this story does not concern itself with noble causes. Instead, it focuses on the individual choices and agendas at a time of change.

Nevertheless, if you think you would enjoy a story where well developed characters play against a backdrop of abuse of religion, societal hierarchy, racism, bigotry, sexual taboos, spirituality, segregation, the inability to escape one's shadow, and damnation, then Clarence Olgibee just might be the book for you.