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Archive for September, 2010

One Man’s Paradise

One Man's Paradise is available for you Kindle!

I always appreciate a good court room, crime drama.  The intelligence of a good attorney is always something enjoyable to read about.  Here we have one of these dramas written by an attorney about an attorney.  I did ask the author how much of the story was autobiographical and he said, none.  Or, very little.  His message was that he is not his protagonist.  Thank goodness!

In this work we read the story of Kevin Corvelli, a young attorney who thought he was “all that” until his own arrogance publicly cost the life of one of his clients.   His misplaced focus on getting his name in the papers, instead of on the case for the client he was defending, ended with a guilty verdict for an innocent man who was raped and killed in prison.

The day after the verdict I got just what I wished for.  My face was plastered on the front page of the Post, along with the headline HE BLOWS IT!

Great!  Now we have an attorney running from New York to Honolulu to deal with his own guilt and to try and make a fresh start.

It was an interesting read for me for several reasons.  First of all, I have never read a book with my own home as the backdrop.  It was strange from that standpoint because I kept listening for things.  Don’t ask me what things, just things.  Secondly, my reading experience has always been one of finding a link to the narrator telling their story.  In this case, there were several times that I just wanted to reach out and slap him!  My mind kept thinking, “Dumb ass!”

I guess I have very little patience for misplaced arrogance, or something.  As dumb as he came off at first, he was actually quite legally clever, when he stopped being so self-important and actually put his mind to it.  Matters of the heart were something quite different.  Men aren’t always very intelligent in the realm of dealing with manipulative women anyway.  I’m just saying.  There are deviant and manipulative women in every story so there is no surprise there!

As things move along in the story and a new case falls into his lap, Kevin is no longer concerned with his own notoriety; his concern and focus are with proving his client’s innocence.  There are interesting twists and interesting and twisted characters.  I really hope Honolulu doesn’t have some of those types.  But, I hate to admit, we do have our share of oddities now and again.

Douglas Corleone autographing copies of his book at Waikele Borders

Did Honolulu end up being Kevin Corvelli’s Paradise?  Rumor has it that the sequel is in the making so I guess we’re going to find out.  You can bet I will!  I’ll be buying at least one copy!  I have to find out if Kevin Corvelli finds peace with his past and a solid legal foundation.  I got a little too  up-close and personal with this one but it was a fun story to try to guess what was going to happen next!

One Man’s Paradise
by Douglas Corleone
2009  Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award
St. Martin’s Minotaur, New York

Douglas lives in Honolulu now with his wife and their adorable little boy.

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I have a great deal of respect for Bloggers Unite and their endless search to bring the dramas and problems of the World to the attention of everyone on the Internet — which means pretty much everyone.  They reach out through the blogging community.  I usually step up with Bloggers Unite on my blog, HomespunHonolulu.com for things like Freedom of the Press and Literacy.  But this one fit better here.

Yesterday, September 10th, was World Suicide Prevention Day! Okay, so I’m a day late.  It’s never too late until we miss a chance to prevent this!  We need to be aware of what is going on with those around us, we need to try to understand and, above all, we need to listen so that we can hear.

I saw this event coming, then I saw the book.  I thought, “Hey, a perfect match!”  What I did not expect was my own reaction.  Getting my hands on the book, quickly, presented its own challenges but I’ll talk about that on the other blog with a link back to this review.  Later.

While reading Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and following the story of the dead protagonist, I kept asking things like, “What is wrong with you?”  Why does a girl, Hannah is her name, who is so young, pretty, and intelligent decide to take her own life?  I was anxious to know, “Why?”

Growing increasingly annoyed, I kept saying, ” But, that’s normal!” as things happened to her.  As I continued to grow angry with this young girl, I could not help but think,  “You’d better come up with something better than this!”   As irritating as her thoughts are from time to time, it’s up the the reader to understand and to grasp Hannah’s issues.  Ultimately, for me, it was an internal isolation and loneliness — that feeling you get when you’re in a room full of people but you’re still lonely.  It was not a case of, “Nobody will help me!”  It was a case of, “Nobody wants to help me.”  In her mind anyway.

This book is well written and it is one that picks up speed as it goes.  You need to find out WHY?  There are two “voices” moving throughout the story as you “listen” to, not only the “voice” of the dead girl telling her story, but to the thoughts of the young man, Clay, who is unwillingly graced with a set of cassette tapes where the story unfolds for him, and for us.  The reader can choose to connect to either one of those voices, or both.  I ended up hearing them both.

Clay had a crush on Hannah.  Hannah is dead.  Clay is one of the Thirteen Reasons Why.  What?  Why?  Exactly.  The plot thickens and you have to keep reading.

Cassettes?  Yep.  Using props to propel a story is something every writer needs.  What they use, and how they use it, is part of their craft.  If you think about the feather in the movie, Forest Gump, you may remember the warm feeling that washed over you at the end of the move when that feather appeared on the screen again.  I know that I will never look at a cassette tape the same way again.  Clever use and a perfect choice, Jay!

Jay Asher can slap me for this but I don’t care.  As I was reading I felt what he wrote and I connected with his characters (even though I’m much older).  Isn’t that what being a writer is all about?   I give this book a grade of  “A”  for pissing me off, making me laugh, and most importantly, for making me cry.  I would give the book an “A+” but I still need a good reason why, Hannah!

Young adult?  I would recommend this book to all parents, all teachers, all counselors, and all social workers.  I don’t know that I would suggest it for students — unless it was a class project where everyone talked about it and wrote a paragraph for their teacher everyday.  I would be too afraid of the hormones of my students, I think.  But, that’s just me.  I would love to use it as an assignment, if I were a teacher, but I would be so afraid.  The author is braver than I!

Good job, Mr. Asher!  When’s the next book?  Facebook says he’s working on it!

Thirteen Reason Why
by Jay Asher
Published in 2007
by Razorbill, Penguin Group
ISBN No. 978-1-59514-171-2

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