Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summertime, Part I

For some summer fun, I'm posting my short story "Summertime", from my Guppy Soup literary short story collection.

Guppy Soup by JT Therrien

Part I

Bright sunlight filtered into Eugenia's bedroom as she lay in bed dying. Her aged and decaying body shook with each labored breath. At ninety-six, this was surely her final battle with cancer. She couldn't sleep, hadn't slept in weeks: the sharp pain in her lungs too insistent to ignore. And what would happen when she couldn't feel the pain anymore?
She groaned, softly pressed her ear against the wallpaper, a field of repeating pink roses framed with a spray of white Baby's Breath. If she listened hard enough she heard Fred and Ethel Murtz, arguing about plumbing or a leaky pipe. Eugenia was unable to make out any of the details.
"Fred and Ethel," she whispered, pushing stale air through parched lips.
"What's that, Mother Adams?"
Fanny's high-pitched voice felt like an ice pick piercing Eugenia's eardrum. Eugenia groaned again. She pressed her fingers against her temples in the hopes of averting further agony. Fred and Ethel's voices faded away, dispersed by the sickening throbs in her head. Through a veil of rising nausea, Eugenia reluctantly let them go.
Even though Fanny had been married to Martin for twenty-one of her son's fifty-four years on Earth and, as the mother-in-law, Eugenia had made the required effort to welcome the loud and selfish woman into the family, admittedly mostly in the beginning, Eugenia had never gotten used to Fanny's grating voice. Whenever her daughter-in-law spoke Eugenia's skin would crawl, making her feel like a nervous cat coiled, ready to pounce. Upon further consideration, she had never taken much of a liking to her daughter-in-law's given name, either. Who in their right mind would name their daughter "Fanny"?
Eugenia sighed deeply, straining to lift the layer of oppressive hot air weighing her down and suffocating the life out of her. There was a time, a long, long time ago, when the hot summer weather had been much more enjoyable. Eating sweet, juicy watermelons, and swimming in the cool running waters of a shallow creek. That's what summers were all about.
"Round up my son for me, will you?" Eugenia asked Fanny without raising her head off the pillow.
Long, thin motes of dust, like wispy marble columns, swayed in the sunlight as Fanny harrumphed and left to fulfill her errand. Not one to be told what to do, that one, thought Eugenia as she chuckled to herself. Too bad. She'll have the run of the house soon enough.
She closed her heavy eyelids and waited for Martin. Slowly, tentatively at first, as if loitering at the frayed edges of consciousness for their cue, Fred and Ethel returned. The subject under discussion, a full-blown argument really, was a wedding. And a fur coat. Yelling, threats and loud tin-can laughter periodically drowned out the angry couple's voices.
Eugenia laughed.


* * *

I hope you've enjoyed this post. I'll be continuing the story over the next few weeks.

If you absolutely need to finish reading "Summertime" before I post the other parts, you can find Guppy Soup for Kindle on Amazon. The literary short story collection is also available on Smashwords for all other e-formats, including Kobo, ibooks, B&N, etc.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: A Step of Faith

A Step of Faith
A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe these books aren't meant to be read one after another. I find myself catching up on The Walk series after being away from it for the past two years. Evans' fifth book has been released, and I realized I was now three books behind in my reading. So I grabbed books number three and four and have just finished the fourth one.

I'll repeat what I mentioned in my pithy review of the third book: if you liked the others, you'll like this one. The same goes for book four. They're all the same. Alan Christopherson walks, he eats, sleeps, tells engaging little factoids about the small towns he walks through. You know, your basic travelogue. It gets kind of tedious to read, if truth be told.

The books barely move the overall story arc along, and I think that is a mistake. Maybe Evans has forgotten the rule about writing: never assume that your readers have nothing else to read and that they'll plod along with you as you meander through your story. Not so, in most cases, and I would assume that goes double, triple and quadruple if your writing a series. In fact, I would hazard a guess that due to the sequential narrative nature of a series, a writer would exponentially lose readers as the series progresses. Be that as it may, the entertainment value has diminished enough that book number five will be my last in this series.

Evans is a really good writer. I just wish there was more substance to this series, that's all. I'll definitely keep reading his other writing, just not this series.

To its credit, A Step of Faith did resolve the cliffhanger at the end of book three, but it also included a bizarre episode between a cult leader and Alan. What I got from the odd encounter was that, once again, Sola Scriptura is to be avoided at all costs. And I seriously doubt that Richard Paul Evans (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - LDS) was intentionally supporting the Catholic position on this doctrine. So, having been educated in the eighties (i.e., courses in semiotics, hermeneutics, interpretation theory, etc...), I was distracted at this point in the narrative by my quest to find the textual subtext(s).

My best guess is that the cult leader is some fictional representation of a theological axe that Evans feels the need to grind - either in support of some LDS doctrine or some other more personal issue. I don't know, and I don't plan on becoming either an LDS scholar or Richard Paul Evans' biographer just to find out the answer. I'm quite comfortable living with the mystery.

One more thing, regarding the tediousness: I suppose it never occurred to either Evans or his editor that the character Alan would have to repeat his story ("my wife broke her back and died a month later from an infection, while I was caring for her my business partner and BFF stole my business, I lost my house, my cars, my wife, everything...") to every new person he meets on his walk. I don't know what the answer to this literary problem might be, but repeating the story, however abridged Alan makes it, gets very annoying.

So, to sum up, A Step of Faith moves Alan's narrative along, although it seems to match his walking pace. If you've got nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, you might as well read this one too.

View all my reviews

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: The Road to Grace

The Road to Grace
The Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Road to Grace is the third book in Richard Paul Evans' The Walk series. If you liked the other previous ones, then you'll like this one too.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Rediscover Catholicism

Rediscover Catholicism
Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this inspirational book on the basic tenets of Catholicism. Rediscover Catholicism is meant for Catholics wanting to reconnect with the beauty and genius of their faith.

As he explores the whats and the whys of our faith, Matthew Kelley comes across as a very knowledgeable, inspirational and motivating writer/speaker. The book reads as a series of talks on a variety of Catholic faith topics, and each section is interspersed with anecdotes of Kelly's own journey of faith.

The topics covered are easily accessible to everyone, and I personally enjoyed the section on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Why the need for this book? Because Catholics everywhere are now being asked to respond to the call to the New Evangelization. Why the need to re-evangelize Catholics? The simple answer is that our beautiful Church is being consistently and relentlessly attacked. In Matthew Kelly's own book summary:

"...it seems that the only acceptable prejudice in this hypersensitive, politically correct modern climate is anti-Catholicism. This prejudice is growing as it is subtly--and not so subtly--nurtured by the arts and the media, and furthered by the way prevailing philosophies [of individualism, hedonism and minimalism] undermine Catholicism.

"Tolerance is proclaimed as the ultimate secular virtue. And yet, those who espouse tolerance are completely intolerant of all things Catholic and Christians...

"In the midst of this blatantly obvious anti-Catholic environment that our culture has created, it is easy to overlook some fundamental and practical realities. The world needs the Church today more than ever before. And this trend shows no signs of slowing. In a modern schema in which people are becoming more self-absorbed and completely fixated on the fulfillment of their own selfish desires, the Church is only going to be needed more and more.

"The Catholic Church feeds, clothes, houses, and educates more people than any other organization in the world. And when modern media and the secular culture have finished tearing down the Church as best they can... who will take our place? Who will feed the hungry? Who will clothe the naked? Who will visit the lonely and imprisoned? Who will house the homeless? Who will comfort the sick and dying? Who will educate the masses?" (Rediscover Catholicism, Beacon Publishing, 2010, p. 308)

Catholics everywhere need to read this inspiring book.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Well is an e-Festival of Words Finalist!

I'm honored that The Well has been selected as a finalist for Best Short Story in the e-Festival of Words Virtual Book Fair. Voting is now open, for anyone who feels so inclined. Click here to vote.

The Well - JT Therrien
December 24th in war-torn and drought-stricken Muhajeria and Sharon convinces her husband to try to fix the broken village well.  Jean-Marc is a busy doctor, reluctant to take time away from his patients, but disaster strikes and he must initiate a dramatic rescue. When Jean-Marc's life hangs in the balance Sharon is overcome with regrets. It just might be too late to reveal her Christmas secret. 

As always, readers can get The Well free at Smashwords.  

A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has read/downloaded this sweet love story. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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