Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review of "Dove Season" by Johnny Shaw

Johnny Shaw teaches writing, which is altogether fitting and proper, since he really knows how to write. In the blurb on the back of the book, author Tana French captures the essence of Shaw's style: "Shaw is excellent at creating a sense of place with a few deft strokes . . . he moves effortlessly between dark comedy and moments that pack a real emotional punch, and he's got a knack for for off-kilter characters who are completely at home in their own personnel corners of oddballdom."

In "Dove Season," Jimmy Veeder returns to California's God-forsaken Imperial Valley to attend to his dying father, and then all hell breaks loose. Here is a sample of Shaw's style and view of the world:

"From far away these dinosaurs were roadside behemoths, but up close they were nothing more than shoddy construction, chipping paint, and exposed chicken wire. To be crystal clear, I'm not saying that when we look at monsters up close we find that they are truly fragile. And I'm not saying that strength from a distance can often revealed as a facade, protecting one's small weaknesses. What I'm saying is that those dinosaurs needed some spackle. Simplistic metaphors are for people who take fortune cookies to heart, need something to say to their book club, and believe that love conquers all. Things are never more than exactly what they seem. We all could use a little spackle." (Pages 3-4)

Enjoy this adventurous tragedy.


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