Review–You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)

Muller can’t get a stiffy. That shouldn’t be a problem for protagonist Sam Bennett, but it is, because Sam’s wife wants a grandchild. And Sam’s daughter is married to Muller, a talented hypochondriac and flabby Renaissance man, Sam’s foil with a killer recipe for pot brownies who can’t, for the life of him, get a stiffy. Except when he’s got Ruby on his mind.

Horse

With little more plot than that Robert Bruce Cormack’s You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive) is a picaro’s tale with dialogue miscues straight out of Catch-22 and an unsung genius—Muller—who might have wandered in from A Confederacy of Dunces.

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You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)
By Robert Bruce Cormack
Yucca Publishing, October 2014
Reviewed by Ben East

Finalists for Dundee Book Prize Announced

Amy Mason of Bristol and Rachel Fenton of Auckland both move on to the final round. May their hearts pound with healthy anticipation until the winner is announced in October!

Extracts from their work, and the work of eight more shortlisted writers for the 2014 Prize, are available in e-Book format.

DIB 2014

2014 Leapfrog Fiction Contest Winner Announced

Congrats to First-Prize Winner Gregory Hill! Looking forward to reading The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles when it comes out, and East of Denver in the meantime.

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The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles (novel) by Gregory Hill (Colorado)

It’s autumn of 1975 and Rancher Johnny Riles is in a rough patch.  He’s drunk, he’s depressed, his parents don’t like him, his loudmouth younger brother–whom Johnny taught to play basketball–just got drafted by the Kentucky Colonels, and someone has brutally murdered his horse.  Things are about to get worse.

A prequel to the darkly comic father-son portrait East of DenverThe Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles returns to the stark landscape of Stratford County for a gritty homespun tale of two brothers irrevocably at odds.

Gregory Hill lives, writes, and makes odd music on the Colorado High Plains.  His previous book, East of Denver, won the 2013 Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction.

Read about other writers and their contest entries–including my semifinalist entry Sea Never Dry–by clicking on the titles:

FINALIST

An Old Horse Named Troy (middle-grade novel) by Ashley Mace Havird (Louisiana)
Andretti in the El Camino (stories) by Terrance Manning, Jr. (Pennsylvania)
Tiki Man (novel) by Thomas M. Atkinson (Ohio)
One Eye Closed Tight Against the Coming Jesus (stories) by Shane Stricker (West Virginia)

SEMIFINALIST

Go Home (novel) by Sohrab Homi Fracis (Florida)
Insulting the Flesh (stories) by James Reed (Nebraska)
Twilight (stories) by Helen Degen Cohen (Illinois)
Sea Never Dry (novel) by Ben East (Virginia)
Love War Stories (stories) by Ivelisse Rodriguez (New Jersey)
The Beautiful Gathering (novel) by Antoinette Mehler (Colorado)
Love, Longing, and Exile (stories) by Bipin Aurora (California)
The Outskirts of Nowhere (stories) by Robert McGuill (Colorado)
Unredeemed: Hateful and other stories (stories) by EC Hanlon (Massachusetts)
By the Fountain of the Four Rivers (linked stories) by Tony Ardizzone (Oregon)

HONORABLE MENTION

The Other Side of Silence (stories) by George Harrar (Massachusetts)
The Magic Laundry (stories) by Jacob M. Appel (New York)
Tandy Caide, C.P.A. (novel) by Stephanie Wilbur Ash (Minnesota)
King of the Gypsies (stories) by Lenore Myka (Massachusetts)
Cross-Eyed Monkey Cabaret (stories) by Aaron Tillman (Massachusetts)
Missionaries (stories) by David Ebenbach (Washington, DC)
Penpals and other stories (stories) by Robert Perchan (South Korea)
The Limp and the Lens (middle-grade novel) by Brigit Mikusko (New York)
The Negro Claim (novel) by Kim McLarin (Massachusetts)
The Patchwork Variations (stories) by Manini Nayar (Pennsylvania)
Woman at the Window (novel) by Mary Anderson Parks (California)

These 26 titles were selected from 385 submissions.  Congrats to all!

Ben East or Ben East?

The University of New Haven posted this article today:

WEST HAVEN, CONN. — Look up Ben East on Amazon and adventure books pop out at you. But it’s not THAT Ben East – an American outdoorsman and writer throughout much of the last century – that we are talking about.

We’re talking about Ben East, who earned a master’s degree at the University of New Haven in 1995, has worked as a Foreign Service Officer posted to U.S. Embassies around the world, and is one of 10 unpublished authors shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize, the richest in the UK for an unpublished novel. An excerpt from his book and that of the nine other authors on the shortlist is on Amazon, too. It is free and available here.

DIB 2014

Full article.

Novel Review–Black River

DeerLodgePrisonRioted

Saturday Evening Post, 6/13/59. Source: ZodiacKillerTRUTH.com

Beneath the surface of Black River, the taut debut by S.M. Hulse, flows the grey enigma of ultimate justice. The narrative forces the reader to ask: Does a recidivist criminal capable of torture, yet claiming to have found Jesus, deserve parole? Or would such redemption be an injustice to the man he brutalized decades earlier? By the time former prison guard Wes Carver confronts the inmate who tortured him—slowly, finger-by-finger (“Williams didn’t just snap. He twisted”) during a prison riot—we’re burning to learn the fate in store for both men.

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e-Book Launch: Dundee International Book Prize

Extracts from the work of shortlisted novelists for the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize are now available in e-Book format.  Priced to move at $0.00!

DIB 2014

Congratulations to my shortlisted compadres Sheena Lambert of Dublin, Rachel Fenton of Auckland, Amy Mason of Bristol, Veronica Birch of the West Country, Rosaliene Bacchus of California, Jasper Dorgan of Wiltshire, Suzy Norman of London, Robin Martin of New York, and Lora Hughes of Yorkshire.

The Dundee International Book Prize is a collaboration between the University of Dundee, Cargo Publishing, and Dundee City Council’s “One City Many Discoveries” campaign.  Author Neil Gaiman, broadcaster Kirsty Lang, publisher Scott Pack, literary agent Felicity Blunt and writer Stuart Kelly are among the judges for the prize, which includes a book deal and £10,000.  Next the shortlist will be shaved down to three finalists before the eventual winner is announced at the Dundee Literary Festival this October.  The winning book will be published by Cargo.

More about my submission, Sea Never Dry.  Or better yet, read it on the compilation!

 

Sea Never Dry on Second Award List

Kente

Leapfrog Press announced their fiction contest results for 2014.  My manuscript for Sea Never Dry was named a semifinalist.   

Thick with spies and fetish priests, Internet fraudsters and the  orphans turning a buck on Ghana’s e-waste ash heaps, Sea Never Dry centers on the conflict between Western development efforts and lucrative criminal activity in the developing world.  Read More

Congrats to the others on the list, and good luck to the finalists as they move on to the final round!

FINALIST

An Old Horse Named Troy (middle-grade novel) by Ashley Mace Havird (Louisiana)
Andretti in the El Camino (stories) by Terrance Manning, Jr. (Pennsylvania)
Tiki Man (novel) by Thomas M. Atkinson (Ohio)
The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles (novel) by Gregory Hill (Colorado)
One Eye Closed Tight Against the Coming Jesus (stories) by Shane Stricker (West Virginia)

SEMIFINALIST

Go Home (novel) by Sohrab Homi Fracis (Florida)
Insulting the Flesh (stories) by James Reed (Nebraska)
Twilight (stories) by Helen Degen Cohen (Illinois)
Sea Never Dry (novel) by Ben East (Virginia)
Love War Stories (stories) by Ivelisse Rodriguez (New Jersey)
The Beautiful Gathering (novel) by Antoinette Mehler (Colorado)
Love, Longing, and Exile (stories) by Bipin Aurora (California)
The Outskirts of Nowhere (stories) by Robert McGuill (Colorado)
Unredeemed: Hateful and other stories (stories) by EC Hanlon (Massachusetts)
By the Fountain of the Four Rivers (linked stories) by Tony Ardizzone (Oregon)

HONORABLE MENTION

The Other Side of Silence (stories) by George Harrar (Massachusetts)
The Magic Laundry (stories) by Jacob M. Appel (New York)
Tandy Caide, C.P.A. (novel) by Stephanie Wilbur Ash (Minnesota)
King of the Gypsies (stories) by Lenore Myka (Massachusetts)
Cross-Eyed Monkey Cabaret (stories) by Aaron Tillman (Massachusetts)
Missionaries (stories) by David Ebenbach (Washington, DC)
Penpals and other stories (stories) by Robert Perchan (South Korea)
The Limp and the Lens (middle-grade novel) by Brigit Mikusko (New York)
The Negro Claim (novel) by Kim McLarin (Massachusetts)
The Patchwork Variations (stories) by Manini Nayar (Pennsylvania)
Woman at the Window (novel) by Mary Anderson Parks (California)


Sea Never Dry began as a short story originally published as One Dead Cop in 2012 by Umbrella Factory Magazine.  It is shortlisted for the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize.

Review – The Family Hightower

Blood Sport and the American Dream

RobinsonDoyle

Sugar Ray Robinson v Jimmy Doyle, 1947. Photographer not cited.  Web.

The Family Hightower takes a savage and intelligent look at the American Dream, asserting an inextricable link between capitalism and crime in a voice that borders on the eternal.  Appropriate, considering the timeless and unattainable aspiration of Brian Francis Slattery’s characters: to “get out”, to escape the prison of wealth and violence and guilt into which they’ve been cast owing to the sins of patriarch Peter Henry Hightower.

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The Family Hightower
By Brian Francis Slattery
Seven Stories Press, Forthcoming September 2014
Reviewed by Ben East