Category Archives: Art

The Friends of Allan Renner by Dave J. Andrae

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Dave J. Andrae’s The Friends of Allan Renner proposes an intelligent exploration of life through a multi-level, multiperspectival narrative which comes by virtue of Allan Renner’s encounters and discourse with his eclectic assortment of friends.

This book is definitively an offering of food for thought, brimming with revelations about life and people in general. This is a narrative that is provocative in its ideals and shines through its characters, their thoughts, actions and personalities during their congregations with central character Allan Renner often giving a story within a story as their backstories are also very revealing about human nature. Moreover, although this work is a fictional story, the subject matter of their encounters and conversations are realistic, important, and quite often thought provoking with topics such as astrophysics, cosmology, modern culture, racism, film making, futurism, sex, dating, technology, as well as artistic endeavors.

The Gene Rasp: A Novel by Patrick L. McConnell

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A noteworthy excursion into the world of science fiction, Patrick L. McConnell’s The Gene Rasp renders the heart and the mind rapt with its exploration of the heart and humanity through the journey of the inventor of a phenomenal life altering device offering hope to mankind for a future utopia.

Fascinating from its outset, the story takes place in the future, with the autobiography of
of central character Tom Spoon later known as Dr. Tom Maloof due to be published in the year 2165. However this is no ordinary autobiography because Tom is no ordinary person; as a matter of fact he becomes the savior of future humanity as he invents a revolutionary medical device called the Gene Rasp which can alter genetics of individuals offering cures for cancer as well as many other diseases thusly making the road to immortality a little clearer.

Easily engaging, the story captivates as Tom Spoon charms readers into his world with a humble and comfortable tone, drawing rich images as he reflects on his life, remembering people, relationships, and experiences which affected his journey from orphan to renowned doctor. He recounts having grown up in an orphanage of which we learn that life for Tom was lonely as a boy, although surrounded by many others, he was different, as he struggled with dyslexia. Believing his brain was broken but determined to overcome his affliction, he yearned to be both understood and connected to something, he began to write poetry, heartfelt masterpieces which appear interspersed throughout the story. Tom grows despite dyslexia going on to accomplish much with his life. He wins a woodworking contest at eighteen, attends college, and later graduate school. Altogether Tom’s journey culminates into a hopeful version of an immortal future.

Entirely a very likable read, The Gene Rasp garners the attention with an intelligent and richly woven journey through a science fiction narrative. I enjoyed author Patrick L. McConnell’s efforts within this work as he successfully brought forth a story that was simultaneously thought-provoking and touching. In particular, I appreciated the refreshing inclusion of intermittent QR code scanning tags and URL links as well as the inclusion of the end of the screenplay for the movie version, all served well to enhance the reading experience by creating deeper interaction with the reader. Also personally, I think this would make a great movie and I look forward to more works by author McConnell. This is a read definitely worth adding to your science fiction collection.

The Antigone Poems by Marie Slaight and Terrence Tasker (Artist)

The Antigone Poems

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Certain stories are timeless, and they can be reshaped in many ways, without losing their essence, such is the story of Antigone. First introduced to the world as a heroine by Sophocles, she now re-emerges in The Antigone Poems of Marie Slaight. However, the heroine of this volume is not one woman, but all.

This volume’s cover is haunting through the intensity of its simplicity. Before we read Slaight’s poems, we see Terrence Tasker’s work, to whom this volume is actually dedicated. Tasker’s charcoal drawings close each of the five chapters of the book and their raw quality matches that of the poems. Even if there aren’t that many drawings, they leave their imprint not just on the pages, but on your memory as well. The beauty in Terrence Tasker’s drawings lies in his ability to allow and almost unnoticeably push the viewer to project their own images over his. The images I saw were filled with pain, desolation, and silent despair. Also, the format of the book is very well thought out since it becomes a tool to control the reader. The empty page which faithfully follows each poem forces us to reflect – even if only fractions of a second – more on what we have just experienced. It dictates the tempo of Marie Slaight’s song.

Her words align themselves obediently to the rhythm of some foreign tribal drums. It’s not so much the words themselves, but how they are put to use that empowers these poems. Their order seems unnatural at first, but each time you read them, they speak to you more. Also, many unexpected associations challenge the reader’s imagination “like scattered dynamite/dissembled power/shattered glass”. There are certain words that reoccur almost obsessively (blood, daemon, sun) which haunt Antigone through her journey. But the beat that overshadows all the other instruments is the fusion of pleasure and pain. It is this fragile string which interweaves both of these contrasting emotions that ties all the poems together. There is a voluptuousness about pain, and a distress in pleasure that Marie Slaight is not afraid to explore.

Although the female spirit seems to be dominating throughout The Antigone Poems, the feelings these speak of transcend the rigid barriers of gender. Universal themes like love, passion, pain, lust, loneliness are combined in a unique way through a strong imagery. The poet makes use of all our senses to perceive inner states in a more organic way. So, we come to smell the odor/see the colors/hear the melody/sense the warmth/taste the flavor of Her emotions.

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