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Book Review: Outside In by Doug Cooper

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Why This Book 
In early 2017, I had drinks with a former colleague when we discussed my goal to publish a novel that year. She had grown up with someone who published a book and offered to introduce us. I said ‘sure’ and never actually contacted the guy. Months later, I signed a contract to publish my book, then realized I never followed through, so I sent a message, we chatted a bit, and I thought… I should read Doug Cooper‘s book: Outside In. I got hold of a copy, it sat on the shelves for a bit, but I decided I wasn’t allowed to buy/download another book in 2018 until I finished everything I already owned… hence how this one got picked for January!

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Plot, Characters & Setting 
Brad Shepherd is a middle school teacher whose student overdoses in class. As part of the Administration’s way to handle the student’s death, Brad’s out of a job. He heads to Put-in-Bay, Ohio to meet a friend and have a summer off, where he can party for a little bit and find his new life path. When he arrives, a life he never knew, or perhaps had forgotten, begins to surround him: he’s quick to fool around with a bunch of women, drink himself silly and experiment with a range of drugs. Over the course of the summer, he makes several mistakes and finds himself going off into a darker oblivion. His family re-surfaces, and a friend has an accident, which helps re-structure his course, but life is definitely going to be different in his future.

Key Thoughts 
For starters, I’ll say the book is a very realistic portrayal of what could happen in this environment. It’s not something I’m familiar with, but based on tons of movies, other books and conversations that touch on these subjects, I’d comfortable stating it is accurately written. That said, it is not an environment I would ever want to be in, nor did I like ANY of the characters in the book. They were a mess, indulgent, immature and frustrating. BUT — that’s the point and they belonged being that way for the story. Cooper brought out my inner ‘angry man’ attitude over people who behave like this, so major kudos to him for a brilliant portrayal of his character set.

The writing has quality and brings to life both the background and the tone you need to be successful in a book like this one. While there are some plot points, e.g. the death of the student, the move to the island for the summer and the results of some of the drug overdoses, it’s essentially a story about a group of experiences people have while drinking and taking various drugs. It’s of course larger than just that simple observation, but you have to be comfortable reading about this side of life to enjoy the book. It’s not going to be ideal for everyone, but it definitely has a large audience to work with. Once you get beyond drugs/drinking, you start questioning how we make choices, our fears, what makes us fall for another person, how does someone guilt you into doing things…

The dialogue and narration provide all the details readers need to know what’s going on in the main character’s head; you will hear his voice, see his actions, know the reasons (most of the time) and follow along on his journey. Sometimes you’ll think he’s stupid and full of fault, others you’ll know he’s suffering from a tragedy and just floating around without any anchor. For those reasons, it is pretty obvious that this has happened and continues to happen to people going through this stage of life. The sum of the parts equal the whole for me with this book. It’s a solid read, full of a wide range of situations and thought-provoking ideas. I think if I had gone through something like Brad did, I’d probably like the book even more. I ended up around 3.75 stars.

Summary 
I’m curious to read his other novel, The Investment Club, about a group of people in Las Vegas going through some life experiences at the Blackjack table. It seems this is the realm the author writes in… that space where the group of people interact in ways we can all relate to, but not nearly as far into the depths… and I’m confident when he hits on topics that are more pertinent to me, I’ll be really invested in the novel and have an entirely deeper connection to the author and his work. For now, I’m glad I read this one and look forward to reading more.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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365 Challenge: Day 242 – Cringe

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Cringe: what happens when you start getting text message from your mother as she’s reading your book and about to reach that section

cringe

Today’s post is a collection of video graphics (sorry A, I know these aren’t your favorite, but they are so apropos for a few things that happened last night). As I mentioned previously, my mom has been holding off reading my debut novel because she wanted the physical copy. I ordered it and finally gave it to her this week when she came by for lunch. I might have had a few heart attacks but not for the reason you think. I can take the criticism, we have a good relationship; however, a few things suddenly came flying at me from every angle possible. Yes, if you haven’t read the book, the true danger of some of these items might not make as big of an impression, but if you read it, I know you’re with me on this one. I’m NOT getting Christmas presents this year, I just know it.

  • What if she asks “Is Olivia based on me?”
    • No, definitely not. And that’s the truth. Well, maybe only the good parts.
    • I do not have any siblings, nor do I come from an upper class Connecticut family, so there really can’t be any resemblances.

  • What happens when she gets to the part where Olivia ‘walks in’ on her son, Caleb?
    • Seriously, I don’t want to have to explain any of this to my mother. I’m gonna die tonight, I just know it.
    • No, my mother has never walked in on me in any way, shape or form.

  • How do I explain that love scene between two characters? I named a few body parts… that’s gonna be awkward!
    • No, Mom. I had someone ghost write that section for me. I never read it either. I’m quiet, innocent and shy. I don’t even know what ‘that word’ means!
    • OK, so can someone kidnap me this afternoon before she reads anymore?

I wish I could share more, but I can’t without revealing any of the secrets or scenes that might cause someone to cringe in the book… so I’m left with only one response:

You’ll have to read it to know what I mean!

 

NOTE: My mother does not read my blog nor have any social media accounts. A few of my family members, however, do have access to these posts. I live in fear, cringing right now, at which one of you is going to share this post with her. I will get revenge; you’ll be tortured in my next novel…

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Daisy Miller

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Daisy Miller Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Daisy Miller by Henry James, a story about a free and unattached American girl who is spending some time in Europe after being removed from American society for some time. She unwittingly defies the moral code of European society, never realizing it until the very end when she dies. All throughout the story, “Daisy does what she likes, responds to what she likes. To the world around her she is a young girl, an American girl, she represents a society and a sex. She is expected to be what she appears-whether that is an innocent girl or a fallen woman” (Allen 337). In America, Daisy was free to roam about, flirting occasionally with the men. Once she enters Rome though, her behavior with a “dubious native [is] in defiance of the system of curfews and chaperons which [the society] holds dear” (Dupee 298). James sets up the plot of the story by having Daisy run into a man who is also an American transplant. Frederick Winterbourne, a kind free-spirited and unemployed gigolo, has lived in Europe for quite a few years searching for an older, rich woman to marry. When he meets Daisy, he is immediately intrigued by the “pretty American flirt” (James 102). Once this connection is established, Daisy’s innocence becomes the focus of the text. In the very beginning, “when contrary to the code of Geneva, [Winterbourne] speaks to the unmarried Daisy, he wonders whether ‘he has gone too far.’ . . . When he attempts to classify her, she undermines all of his stuffy and inapplicable generalizations. He decides that [Daisy] may be ‘cold,’ ‘austere,’ and ‘prim’ only to find her spontaneous and as ‘decently limpid as the very cleanest water’” (Gargano 314). Daisy and Winterbourne have now established their relationship at this point; They are attracted to one another and would like to go and see the Chateau de Chillon. When Winterbourne asks her to go with him, Daisy says, with some placidity, “With me?”. Winterbourne responds by respectfully inviting her mother along also. However, after the flirtatious exchange between the two, “[Daisy] didn’t rise, blushing, as a young girl at Geneva would have done” (James 103). The process in which Daisy loses her innocence begins here.
However, James’s short story is told from the perspective of Winterbourne, which overshadows the true story of Daisy’s innocence. Readers see and understand Daisy’s actions through Winterbourne’s eyes and actions. After Winterbourne leaves town to care for his aunt, he and Edna find their way back to each other. However, Winterbourne is non-committal to Daisy because of her flirtatious behavior with him and other men. Nevertheless, Daisy is not alone when they meet up this time. She is dating an Italian man named Giovanelli, who is obviously only after her money. Daisy continues to see Giovanelli, but she also spends some time with Winterbourne. Society begins to see that she is involved with both of these two men, quite intimately apparently. Daisy’s mother thinks she is engaged to Giovanelli, but Daisy is also seen out with Winterbourne every once in a while. F. W. Dupee remarks that when society is “judging [Daisy’s] morals by her manners, they imagine the worst and they ostracize her. They are wrong” (Dupee 299). However, “all the chattering tongues of Rome do not bother Daisy. She knows that Winterbourne, the one person whose opinion she values, believes in her innocence and chastity” (Buitenhuis 310). Daisy later focuses her thoughts on Giovanelli, and ignores Winterbourne even though he has always believed in her innocence and cared for her.
After losing track of Daisy for quite some time, Winterbourne runs across her at the Colosseum in Rome. The Colosseum was known to be a place where young lovers would go to experience passion and love. Daisy and Giovanelli are standing in the arena when Winterbourne notices them. Winterbourne tries to leave without making his presence known, but Daisy sees him. He asks her if she is engaged to Giovanelli, and Daisy tells him that she is. Winterbourne, at this point, believes that Daisy is nothing but a flirt who toys with men’s emotions for her own self-interest. It was also very dangerous for one to go near the Colosseum at such late hours because it was common for people to catch Roman Fever, a form of malaria. When Winterbourne tells Daisy this, she seems to hardly care at all about getting sick, and her actions even lead the readers to believe that she is going there purposely. Daisy’s actions appear suicidal. Winterbourne is concerned and he “not only expresses his concern for her health so recklessly exposed, but [by doing so,] he also lets her see that he has lost faith in her purity” (Buitenhuis 310). Shortly after, Daisy takes ill and begins to die. On her death bed, she can only think of telling Winterbourne that she really is not engaged to Giovanelli, who skips out on her once she gets sick.
Daisy eventually dies from the Roman Fever. It seems as though “Daisy dies because she cannot be fitted into any European scheme of things” (Allen 337). At this point, “[Winterbourne] realizes too late that he could have loved Daisy, and that Daisy could have loved him” (Buitenhuis 310). It is sad that it has to come to this, but society binds women to the strict standards of what they can and cannot do. If Daisy was in America, she would have gotten away with her behavior, but she was in Europe. European culture expects women to conform to specific standards. Just as Daisy is expected to live by the customs of Europe, so is Edna Pontellier from Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews