Sunday, April 28, 2013

New Review: Syd & Marcy by Beaird Glover

by Beaird Glover

If Quentin Tarantino tried his hand at Bonnie and Clyde, this is what it would look like. Beaird Glover's SYD & MARCY is a gritty novella set in the American South. Sydney and Marcy are two broken lovers who have the grand design of one day moving to Hollywood and making it big. But they need money for such a trip and they go about funding their exodus the only way they know how: robbery, murder and fraud. Their lawbreaking eventually makes them the subject of local police, in particular a detective with a flair for vigilantism.

As badly as this duo wants out of their Appalachian backwater, they are very much a product of the region's (at least as it is commonly portrayed) low education, poverty and hillbilly culture. Having grown up with a prostitute of a mother, Sydney suffers from alcoholism and also the gambling addict's persistent belief that "today's my day," while Marcy displays definite psychological baggage, including apathy whenever she takes a life, all of which is related to her abusive father and contributes to her devotion Sydney and his unrealistic grandiose schemes. 

This book would definitely receive a hard "R" if it was a film, and readers should be aware for lots of language, frequent instances of sex and violence, and even incest and human captivity. I'm typically not a fan of this kind of fiction (I don't even really care for Tarantino to be honest) so it took a little while for me to begin to appreciate the story. Character development is the author's greatest strength. These characters range from depraved to disturbed, and in the case of Syd and Marcy, they really act as their own worst enemies throughout making bad decision after bad decision. While this can be frustrating for someone with common sense to read, it is refreshing to get away from fiction archetypes and see flawed characters making flawed decisions. This story's most noticeable weakness is that the ending seems a little rushed, and the resolution, while fitting, is only about half a page. As far as theme goes, I don't believe fiction always has to "say" something (sometimes a good story is just a good story), however I did detect some slight commentary on the part of the author on the impact of violent culture in media on youth development when he explains Marcy's blase attitude to taking life is related to her view that it is just acting.

All in all, SYD & MARCY is intriguing yet uncomfortable, and its length makes it short enough to not be an onerous commitment while long enough to be worthwhile investment.

Stars: 4/5

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cover article in Toledo City Paper

I had the opportunity to write the cover story in this week's Toledo City Paper. This is their annual green issue which focuses on environmentalism and sustainability as it pertains to Northwest Ohio. This particular issue, "Waste Not," looks at four businesses in the Toledo area that are trying to model an eco-friendly business model. Check it out!

Saturday, April 13, 2013



by David B. McCoy

"Oliver Hazard Perry: The Hero of Lake Erie" is a short bio on the life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry which can be read in one or maybe two sittings. It is for the most part well-written and informative. I learned a great deal, especially on Perry's early life. I definitely wish I had read this before I wrote "Waves and War," since there are a few factoids about the Commodore I learned from this book that I would have liked to feather into my story. Unfortunately, "Oliver Hazard Perry" was published four months too late. 

The book does have a few glaring issues that can't be ignored. The first is that despite having a sizable bibliography for a work of this length the author uses only a minimal amount of citation in his text. I feel that when writing a biography some kind of notation is a must. Also, for the actual Battle of Lake Erie, the author defers wholly to an inserted description provided by the park service at Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial. I would have liked to have seen the author tackle the battle and describe it in his own narrative style. 

All in all, this is a quality "on-the-go" style read, and I look forward to reading more of McCoy's "In Your Hand" digital history series. Someone already familiar with Commodore Perry and his role in the War of 1812 might want to seek something more in depth, but for the uninitiated looking to broaden their knowledge base, especially as we enter the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie, this is a perfect choice. 

Stars: 4/5