This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection, the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.
As I write this review I’m quite pleased this novel has had little no recognition. I don’t say this out of spite. I say this because if something as good as War in a Beautiful Country (WBC) by Patricia Ryan can stay undiscovered than I don’t feel so bad about my books.
WBC is the work of genius – from concept, to presentation, to writing. My books in comparison are, well, let’s say I have something to aspire to.
It’s quirky, perceptive and funny. It’s poignant as well as enlightening, entertaining and original. It ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous and covers a lot of the stuff in between.
The protagonist is Regina, a middle aged woman living in New York City. Regina begins getting surface mail from an anonymous person threatening to blow her up. The idea her life might end violently and without warning makes her examine her existence; her art, her relationships, her activities, her purpose.
WCB is wickedly funny and at the same time wise and worldly with fascinating insights on art and relationships. The prose is crisp and edgy, characters well developed and memorable. There’s powerful imagery and “shock and awe” metaphors.
Perfect? Not quite.
Ryan ignores quite a few writing conventions. It’s not uncommon to have three POV’s in one paragraph – two character’s and the narrator – it gets crowded and confusing.
She has some inventive ways of using punctuation including colons and combinations of question marks and exclamations marks!?!
Not infrequently, the rants by characters smack of author intrusion since they’re not consistent with the character’s personality and don’t advance the narrative. I forgave this because they are often so entertaining I didn’t really care.
Some might also consider the novel too introspective and lacking in action.
To best describe my reaction to this novel is to use the character, Regina’s own words on how she feels when she comes upon “the real thing in others.” Several times while reading this work I had “oh, my god!” moments. I am “staggered under the weight of Patricia Ryan’s talent”.
When God dispensed the Talent Dust, Ryan obviously got equal amounts of magenta (desire) and teal (ability). I was one of the many who got only magenta. Drat.
I downloaded this novel free from Smashwords as part of my commitment to review the work of independently published authors