May 11, 2017

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen: A Review

Forty plus years after the U.S. abandoned Vietnam to the Communists, Viet Thanh Nguyen captures the duplicity of all sides during the Vietnam war and its aftermath in his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Sympathizer. Reading Nguyen reinforces my belief that I was on the right side in the 1960s when I joined the anti-war movement before it imploded in the 1970s, exhibiting similar excesses to those perpetrated by the North Vietnamese (and Cambodians) on their own people. The American anti-war movement morphed into an anti-American movement with groups like the post-SDS Weather Underground waging war on the American working class for failure to take up arms against the American government. In Vietnam, the victorious Communists subjugated anyone and everyone […]
December 1, 2016

On Writing: Let’s Look at Transitions

When switching from one scene to another or one chapter to another, the writer’s goal is to maintain the reader’s interest level or even to ramp it up from where the previous scene/chapter left off. To do that some writers, myself included, occasionally fall back on a straight narrative presentation. Here’s an example: Joe wrote 10:59 in the sign-in book even though the clock behind the receptionist said it was 11:03. “I got here on time,” he’d tell his parole officer, “but there was a long line at security.” There hadn’t been a line. He’d overslept and had to walk the ten blocks to the diner where his mother worked to borrow her car and a twenty to pay for […]
June 29, 2016

Why I Write Thrillers

Ten years ago when I started writing novels if you asked me what genre I planned to write, I would not have said thrillers. Yet from a dozen false starts sitting on my hard drive, I picked a thriller for the first novel I tried to complete. That became The Expendable Man, which some still rate as my best story. And, what is the genre of the story I’m working on today? You guessed it––a thriller. Thrillers are one of the most competitive genres these days in terms of sales and numbers of books published––along with romances and mysteries. Why? What is it that attracts both writers and readers to this genre? I have some ideas. Let’s see if they […]
June 11, 2016

Not Surprising, Most of Richard Russo’s Fools are Men

Everybody’s Fool is the follow-up to Nobody’s Fool, Russo’s 1994 portrait of Donald Sullivan and life in North Bath, New York––a fictional community that is a compilation of Gloversville, where Russo grew up, and Ballston Spa, Saratoga Spring’s step sister. Sully is older now and has been told he needs a defibrillator. He’s also come into some money––his trifecta paid off more than once, then his high school English teacher left her house to him. Unable to work his usual jobs and not needing the money, he pays less attention to his sidekick Rub than the latter would prefer, but still ends most days on a bar stool in his favorite watering hole. While Sully was “nobody’s fool” in the […]
March 26, 2016

Updating My Calendar with Events you may want to know about

On my early morning walk today (if you can call 9 a.m. early), I was surprised at the flowering of so many trees in our development. Spring always surprises me. It’s here already! I guess I’m still used to Albany weather, which is probably two or three weeks behind Maryland’s. Time passes too quickly for me these days. My self-imposed workload never seems to diminish and my dance card for the coming months is getting filled in. Here are the highlights: I’ll be leaving for my first trip to Israel April 5. It will be a two-week adventure. Jude elected to say home. So, I’m traveling with my younger brother, Steve––a great opportunity for us to spend time together since […]
February 17, 2016

An Interview with Austin Camacho, author of Beyond Blue and other novels

I first met Austin Camacho at a meeting of the Mid-Atlantic chapter of Mystery Writers of America. It was my first meeting and he welcomed me and made me feel at home. This past fall (2015) I got to know Austin and his wife Denise a little better at their Crime, Creatures and Creativity conference. What I liked most about the event was the level of interaction with speakers. (The 2016 conference is moving to Columbia, Maryland; register for the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 event by March 31 to qualify for an early-bird discount.) Austin grew up in Saratoga Springs––not far from my home town of Gloversville, NY––attended Union College and served in the U.S. Army. These days he handles media relations […]