Monday, August 20, 2012

Reviews are in!


Do me a favor? People have been asking me if there's going to be a Kindle version of my novel. The answer is a firm maybe. It will happen only if the publisher gets the notion that there's a significant demand for an e-book edition. Would you please go to the Amazon page and click on “I'd like to read this book on Kindle”? Thanks!

A few unsolicited reviews have trickled in since last month's publication of Land of Milk and Money. The good news is that they're positive. Right now there are three five-star reviews on Amazon, although one of them appropriately notes that it was written by a friend of mine. (Thanks, buddy!) The other two, however, are by people I have never met and don't know. I have to thank them for taking the time and trouble to post such positive reviews of my book. Muito obrigado!

 Here's what Karen Davis of Maryland had to say:
A "read straight through" delight, July 31, 2012

Disclaimer: I read the author's blog, but I don't know him. Still, his writing there is delightful, so I was prepared to enjoy the book. I just wasn't prepared to enjoy it quite so much. I started it on my commute to work this morning, and finished it this evening, doing little else but read. The story hooked me, the characters are vivid and convincing, and the narrative structure pulled me right in. At first I paid a lot of attention to the dates provided, but fairly soon I felt grounded enough in the family's life to be able to place when things were happening — what seems a bit haphazard at first is anything but. The huge family, bound together by the dairy farm, unravels in an inevitable and real way after the death of the matriarch, who knew that "land, houses, and cows" — and money — would come between them. Her attempt to prevent that serves as the spark, and we get to know them all before we learn how it all ends. (Or maybe not "all".) This book is a joy to read.
Jeffrey W. Hatley then weighed in with the following:
A Wonderful Book, August 6, 2012

Short summary: This is the best work of fiction I have read in a very long time, and you should absolutely read it.

Long Summary:

The first thing I should mention is that this is not the type of book I would ordinarily read. If I were browsing the book store, I probably would not have been gripped by the book's synopsis on the back cover. I bought this book because I'm a long-time fan of the authors blog, so I was familiar with his skilled writing.

This book greatly exceeded my high expectations.

Written in an episodic fashion, Land of Milk and Money uses short, non-chronological anecdotes to tell the story of several generations of the Francisco family and their dairy farm, as well as the legal battle that ensued when the family matriarch passed away. While this may sound like a slightly confusing way to write a story, it is not; the author uses it masterfully, creating three-dimensional characters and relating several decades-worth of incidents, resulting in a book which is a model of clarity. The author does helpfully include a Cast of Characters in the back of the book, but one quickly learns all of the major players and ceases to need this cheat sheet.

Despite being about a legal battle, Land of Milk and Money is light-hearted, and I often found myself chuckling at Candy's follies, Ms. Onan's ineptness, Jojo's ingenuity, and Paul's pedantry. By the book's conclusion, I had developed an attachment to many of the characters, and I can't help but feel that there are even more wonderful anecdotes that didn't make the cut. While I doubt it's in the making, I would certainly read the sequel!

Land of Milk and Money is an extremely fun read, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Please, read this!
Nice! How could I possibly quibble with that? (Although I admit that I did correct one misspelling because it's difficult for me to resist such things.)

By the way, Jeffrey is completely correct. There were a number of omitted anecdotes. Here's a little list:

The voyage to Brazil
The wearing of the green
Alberto's wisdom
If I might have a word
Visit to the University Farm
I want to be a priest
A night at the opera
Want to be a teacher?
Walking past the church
The Einsteinian cow

All but the last of these episodes were written up and included in the manuscript at one point or another. The first one, The voyage to Brazil, was published on-line at the Comunidades site early last year while the manuscript was still under consideration at Tagus Press. During the editing process, the segment was flagged for its comparative length and for being too much of a distraction from the main plot. I had to (reluctantly) agree.

“The wearing of the green” is based on an old blog post from 2005. The time of red and green amused me enough to want to recycle it, but my editor deemed it peripheral to the plot. As he noted in an initial reading of the manuscript, “the story of Paul's evolution from child prodigy to mathematician is well-enough told and does present a focal point for an alternative assimilation narrative, [but] I'm not altogether persuaded it fully coheres with the rest of the book.”

Yeah, busted! He singled out several of the more autobiographical segments and recommended them for deletion. Of the ten deleted titles above, I see that fully seven of them were episodes of this kind.

What will I do with all of the chunks of text left over from the manuscript's slimming process? I don't  know. While most of them don't stand alone very well, neither do they form a coherent whole. Perhaps they are fated to go into literature's dustbin. Although crowded, I'm sure the literary waste receptacle can make room for these leavings. And who knows? With a little bit of patience, they might eventually be reunited with the anecdotes that survived the winnowing process, but ... on the shelf or in the dustbin?


unapologetic said...

Go the DVD route and include them as "deleted scenes" on the electronic edition!

The Ridger, FCD said...

Kindle Single!

Anyway, I asked for the Kindle edition before I gave up and bought the print version. Couldn't wait - glad I didn't.

Kathie said...

Zeno wonders: "What will I do with all of the chunks of text left over from the manuscript's slimming process?... While most of them don't stand alone very well, neither do they form a coherent whole."

Now that you're developing a following, you might want to hurry to publish a follow-up book in order to retain your readers.

Can you use the content of the cut episodes, with considerable rewriting if necessary, as the (partial) basis for a collection of short stories? After all, you already succeeded at it with "The Voyage to Brazil" online. They could comprise a whole section of connected short stories, if you wish (à la Anthony De Sa's "Barnacle Love," or Molly Ringwald's new novel). Then you could toss in some other new or already-written short stories, related or otherwise. Time to get cracking, Zee!

The Ridger, FCD said...

Indeed, Zee! More Books!

plam said...

Still waiting for my copy. Things take longer to get to Canada (assuming that I successfully ordered it; I might have forgotten to do so. Should check!)