BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Graphic Nature by Daniel Damiano

 


Daniel Damiao’s new novel Graphic Nature is historical fiction without a lot of history given. (Though once the heads start dropping, you can guess what period we’re in.) Given the source material, Damiano truly undertook a risk. A main character who beheads people for a living is a somewhat difficult man to empathize with, but Damiano makes us do exactly that. It’s what any great writer SHOULD do actually. 

 

Edmond de Capitoir is a single man living in Paris, France. It’s 81 years after the French Revolution, but public executions are still a popular past time. Chopping heads provides Edmond with a good living as it does for both his brothers who assist him. For Edmond, theirs is simply a trade passed down from their father. Besides, people commit crimes and there must be punishment for it. Don’t want to lose your head? Behave yourself.

 

Edmond soon longs for family life though. He begins a romance with a young shop girl. He does his best to hide his gruesome vocation from her, but sudden fame from a news article makes this impossible. She finds out. But will she care? Will it matter?  

 

Edmond struggles with her reaction, the pushback from his brothers, the overwhelming annoyance of being a reluctant celebrity, and the yawning disinterest of the gluttonous Minister of Justice, who sees executions as an important form of entertainment. Or something. He has vacations to plan.

 

Eventually, of course, the essence of what Edmond and his brother do takes it toll on their souls. There’s only so much graphic gore and blood a sane person can take before comprehending the cruel and evil nature of it all. Even executioners bleed.

 

A short 237-page read, this novel still packs a punch. Deep and heavy on so many levels, hitting so many strong notes. Graphic Nature tells a compelling story with interesting, believable characters while delivering a nuanced message that’s both powerful and important. It also manages to involve the sagacity of life and death, love and loss, the sins of the father, and the indifference of God. You’ll want to read it sitting down.  


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BOOK RECOMMENDATION: The Unwinding Cable Car by Andrew J. Brandt

 


I tried twice to put this novel down, wanting to savor it since I was enjoying it so much. However, I couldn't help myself and I picked it up again to keep reading and more or less finished in one sitting. This novel was very well written, very well paced, and just when I thought I'd figured out where the story was going, it proved me wrong. Not much more you could ask from a book. There were times when the plot felt like an extra-long Twilight Zone episode, but there was enough suspense and horror to overcome that thought. Being a writer myself it was especially hard not to get caught up in the main character's issues since they were what faces pretty much any writer seeking success. Be careful what you wish for though...Also, I can’t for the life of me understand how the title relates…


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BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Vicarious Vacations by Michael Wojciechowski

 


Just before reading this book, not even knowing what it was about, I had checked my latest Instagram post to see it had attracted the normal 10-12 likes that all of my posts normally get. I then checked my feed and saw a post from Chrissy Teigen. It was a close-up of her looking in the mirror while carelessly fussing with her hair. How many likes did this simple snapshot get? 1.7 million.

 

Not complaining, because I understand I’m not a celebrity, but the contrast remains somewhat staggering. My post is an ad for my new book, and the ad took me more than a few minutes to create. How long did her post take? I have no idea, but it couldn’t possibly have been more than a couple seconds. Still…1.7 million likes to my 12.

 

Then I came across the novel Vicarious Vacations, which made me think of the 90’s movie Jawbreaker if it had happened during the age of social media. An average girl named Paige becomes the beautiful Instagram pin-up she thought she always wanted to be, inhabiting a world in which a person’s true value is measured only in how many digital “likes” strangers will give her. Our smart phones have become extensions of not only our bodies, but our personalities. How many times have you seen a table of friends sitting together at a restaurant, all of them with their faces buried in their phones, none of them speaking to one another? It’s sad, pathetic, and profoundly troubling. This novel does a wondrous job of addressing this modern social issue in the form of one Paige Reynolds.

 

Thanks to the services the company Vicarious Vacations provides, Paige is the proverbial ugly duckling turned swan at the cost of her soul. This is a gut-punch poignant and incredibly well-written book. I genuinely wish there was a way to make it required reading for every 8 to 12-year-old alive before their character and self-esteem becomes too tied-in with their online presence. It’s a novel which makes you cringe to think where our society will be in, say, another fifty years from now. Entire lives will play out for the sole benefit of a single screen. Nobody will know anybody, except for what they want them to THINK they know.

 

There are points in which the satire becomes a tad heavy handed and the devious, privacy-desecrating practices of Vicarious Vacations would be considered absolutely preposterous for a work of fiction...only, it’s actually happening in real life all around us. For evidence, watch “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix. This novel is happening and it is terrifying…

 

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BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Olivia's Turn by Taylor Marsh

 


A very enjoyable noir thriller set mainly in Las Vegas. This novel manages to keep your attention despite 95% of it being dialogue and a majority of the book's middle section consisting of phone conversations and a single, lengthy conversation between the female and male leads. Still the dialogue is snappy and witty enough and the stakes for the characters are high enough to keep the pages turning.


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BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Headless 1776 by Tom Schneider

What a surprising little find this novella was! Living in Westchester and having driven through Sleepy Hollow many times, I was always curious about this legend. Like most people, my only exposure was the Disney cartoon, which was an oversimplification of the tale obviously. I was unaware of the Revolutionary War context, which added an entirely different level. (I’d never read the Washington Irving novel, so my ignorance was understandable.) I was never aware the British had so many colonial supporters who saw Washington's rebellion as traitorous. I enjoyed this novella so much that my only complaint was its brevity. I wanted more.


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BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Sanguinary Longings by Claude Frazier

 


This is, without question, the best vampire book I’ve ever read, though admittedly I haven’t read a lot of them. I was just impressed with the unique take this novel had on what a “vampire” actually is. Like most vampire tales, their powers and limitations are adjusted to what’s needed in the story. For instance, these vampires are not undead and can be killed by ordinary weapons. They cannot change into bats or any other animal for that matter. They are closer to human than probably any other vampire novel out there, which is what makes the characters and their predicaments all the more engaging. Here they’re almost de-mystified. Their condition is treated clinically. Appropriate considering the main character is a doctor turned bloodsucker. (The author is a doctor as well apparently.)

 

Overall, this novel is very well-written, though typos appear in greater numbers towards the end. The story is so compelling, however, that these errors are easy to overlook and forgive. The author also did a great job of researching into the time period this novel takes place in (between the first and second world wars.) It makes for a more than interesting backdrop. Educational even.

 

If you’re a fan of vampire novels, please, give this one a try. I guarantee it’s far different than the rest.


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BOOK RECOMMENDATION: The Boat: A Novella (In Caves and Catacombs Book 1) by Elle Otero

 


A truly beautiful novella. Pretty close to perfect honestly. Maybe this could’ve made been stretched into a novel with more emotional digging, but that’s the sound of me nitpicking. Reminded me of The Road by Cormac McCarthy a little. Still, this stands out on its own just fine. Would love to be more specific about what’ so great about this novella, but I don’t want to give anything away. It’s too short. Please, read. That is all.


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To purchase this amazing book, please click on the book cover above!


BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Graphic Nature by Daniel Damiano

  Daniel Damiao’s new novel Graphic Nature is historical fiction without a lot of history given. (Though once the heads start dropping, you...