Tales Untold

Tales Untold ISBN: 9781537893259 by Narcissimus Decimus Maximus, an assemblage of writings of Kevin Focke, including his pseudonyms.

The book opens with an Editor’s Forward that describes Kevin Focke’s writing as “an acquired taste” and goes on to explain that “He was an idiosyncratic man who didn’t pay much heed to critique; he wrote what he wanted to write, ‘imaginative stories told with utter sincerity – and without an editor to sully my genius’” He proceeds to explain further the man’s thought patterns, tendencies, actions, and highly individualized ‘quirks’, much directly from his writings. This is then followed by The Reflection Collections that consists of 9 Books, several ruminations on various subjects, an Appendix: Reflecting on the Reflection Collection; an Appendix: Ramblings; an Appendix: The Kevin Focke Appreciation Process; and finally, Saluté. In the 1st appendix an explanation of each of Focke’s books is offered. The 2nd appendix is as described. The 3rd presents the steps strongly suggested as those necessary to appreciate the perhaps somewhat difficult to interpret theme of Focke’s prose. Saluté obviously requires no explanation.

The assemblage of this collection has been masterfully done to display the subject’s idiosyncratic approach to writing as well as offering reasons why Focke’s writing should have been quite well received by a niche audience of certain philosophically leaning readers along with pseudointellectuals. Regrettably, this reader feels a need to question/modify the assembler’s belief that “Tales Untold is a seminal work of utter genius yet Kevin Focke’s haughty attitude prevents it from being recognized as such. Eventually, however, it will be.” He advances the belief that the more successive times each book is read, the greater the understanding that will evolve, and blame is placed on the anticipated readership for not doing so. The explanations offered in the Appendices certainly bolster this belief and demonstrate thoughtful consideration by an individual(s) who is(are) truly into philosophical considerations. However, placing blame on the readership – that they are at fault because they are not rereading his books sufficiently enough to gain the proper understanding – is asking a little much. Unfortunately there are few people today who seem truly attuned to philosophical thought. Most people obtain a book for enjoyment and/or to learn. However, if the book is not particularly enjoyable (which this is not) and several sessions are required to learn, few readers will continue indulging in such activity.

So, to conclude: With the direction in which today’s inhabitants are heading, I am not sure Tales Untold will have time to become a seminal work and even then it would require sufficient acceptance, a situation seemingly rather unlikely since Focke has demonstrated such a distain for his anticipated readers – a situation that rarely generates wide dissemination. However, amusingly/ironically possibly, he has adhered to a suggestion I long have given to my students – continue to write for the pure enjoyment and sense of accomplishment that the activity brings, and accept any monetary or other recompense as a most pleasant and additional result. From the description presented here, Kevin Focke had done exactly that. Unfortunately, because he died in a rather poor financial situation, he forgot, or more probably ignored the adage that has been around for many, many years in the writing profession: “Don’t be in a hurry to give up your day job.”

4* Masterful job of displaying a flawed writer’s idiosyncratic approach to writing.


Seal Team Bravo: BLACK OPS Isis Broken Arrow II

Seal Team Bravo: BLACK OPS Isis Broken Arrow II, a short story in e-book by Eric Meyer.

Plot: Lt. Kyle Nolan with his four man Seal team must destroy a supply of weapons and explosives being delivered to the Taliban in the freezing Hindu Kush mountain range bordering Afghanistan/Pakistan. They just complete the mission when they are informed there will be no down time. Rather they must immediately return to the same area, penetrate an impregnable mountaintop fortress, rescue a Marine Sergeant who has penetrated the area, and find a nuclear warhead that the Taliban has been able to obtain because of a diplomatic screw-up. Furthermore, he must add a Pakistani officer and two newly trained operatives to his four man team – again the result of diplomatic maneuvering. The story revolves around their activity and is complicated by the fact that the new men are unknown entities, an old acquaintance of Nolan, Amber Chase, now a Seal Captain, already is at the site, and the occurrence of numerous on-the-spot problems.

Discussion: This is another in this fast paced thriller series of short stories by an author who writes most enjoyably readable action stories for readers who often find themselves with a short space of time on their hands.

5* Another enjoyable thriller by this author.

Stones in the River

Stones in the River, Vol. 1, is a short story in e-book format by Jason Tucker.

Plot: Jamie was sitting on his couch enjoying a beer and half watching TV news after a long shift at the factory. An announcement from the Lottery headquarters began and listed a number that sounded like the one he had just purchased. He checked, was right and went quietly bananas. It seems he was the lone winner of 33 million dollars. He thought of calling Stephanie a bartender he had seen a few times, but thought better of it. But he didn’t know who to call? Living in a small mountain town was tough. If it was the wrong person, everybody would know. A call to his parents would bring aunts, uncles, their kids, etc. and besides he had to work in the morning. Finally, he called his grandmother and told her he thought he won some money. She thought that was nice but he should not drink any more beer and go to bed. At this moment he knew he would never change. He would be the same old Jamie – send his family on vacations, buy grandma a new car, nieces and nephews stuff they wanted, get the Jeep he had been wanting. In other words he would be generous but not showy. “He would go to work, pay his bills and save money. It was a shame about Stephanie, but he’d meet some nice southern girl who wasn’t wowed by money, they would have three kids and send them all to college.” Unfortunately, this is NOT what followed his winning of the lottery. Instead, as the story unfolds, the Lottery insists upon wide dissemination of the knowledge of his win, Stephanie sues him for several million, his job is given to ‘someone who needs it’ and other occurrences have him leaving for an Alaskan fishing trip that provides an interesting twist to the tale.

Discussion: This is a short story by a newer author that offers an appealing approach to a timely subject. The presentation of the story line is interesting, the pace is good and characterization is a bit sketchy, but adequate. A shift from pure narrative to a conversational approach, in the reviewer’s opinion, would have added greatly to the book’s enjoyment.

3* A short story providing a fine basis for those volumes that follow.


IMPRESSIONS, A Collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories. An e-book by Dan Groat.
The collection referred to consists of 55 individual stories, many of vignette or even simply 2-3 page length. The content ranges from a comment on a single idea of questionable interest/importance/relevance to more extensive thoughts, considerations, ruminations, and philosophy. Subjects include racial relations, the second amendment, religion, thoughts on ‘being’, and remembrances of ‘things past’. In the treatment of each individual account the author moves from simple descriptions to the use of humor, poignancy, parody, fantasy and other prominent human emotions including thoughts on basic survival. Stories this reviewer found to be particularly interesting for one or another reason were numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 13, 14, 26, 28, 45, 46, 51, 52, and 54.

Discussion: In the author’s lifetime he has participated in a host of labors ranging from menial to meaningful, all of which no doubt have contributed to his approach to life and to his writing. And as with his selection of labors, the subjects chosen about which to write demonstrate equal eclecticism. For this reader the collection as a whole covered an unusual array of subjects ranging from those seemingly lacking in a ‘theme’ to other, well-couched, thought provoking discussions.

3* Some interesting/amusing/provocative stories but for this reader an uneven presentation.