jueves, 30 de agosto de 2012

Comentario sobre "La Mujer Que Nunca Se Maquilló"

"La Mujer Que Nunca Se Maquilló" por Alex Cantón-Dutari
Comentario de Kathryn Ann Novich
"En la nueva novela de Alex Cantón-Dutari los eslabones de la sangre compartida no se rompen a pesar de ser desconocidos. Al contrario, lo que no se habla y se guarda en el alma crece hasta convertirse en un vínculo emocional con vida propia, un receptor espiritual capaz de trascender los límites del tiempo y del espacio. Al conocer a los personajes principales, se nos presenta un misterio que poco a poco va aclarándose. Mientras leemos nos adentramos en la cultura cotidiana de la finca con su dueño-diós benévolo, anhelado pero siempre inaccesible. A la vez vislumbramos la desesperación del alma humana por conocer sus raices de las que nace el poder espiritual de mantenerlas más alla de la esta dimensión. Esta novela capta al lector desde el primer párrafo, y lo deja queriendo otro capítulo más. Seguramente es una obra que enriquece el conocimiento de quien lo lea y que expande los horizontes de la imaginación".

martes, 28 de agosto de 2012

Maritza Magda Araúz: "Cuento de Cuentos"

Tuve el gran placer de conocer a mi colega en las letras creativas Maritza Magda Araúz.  El contexto de la Feria Internacional del Libro 2012 nos reunió.
Acabo de leer su "novellette" "Cuento de Cuentos".
La narración ubica al lector a acompañar a la autora en un viaje lleno de recuerdos a David, Chiriquí. Para los que hemos hecho el recorrido en autobús podemos recordar la actitud que hay que asumir para la extensión en el tiempo de semejante trecho.
Ésta misma extensión en el tiempo es utilizada por Maritza para llevarnos a distintos centros de recuerdo de su vida, lo cual hace con una prosa y un diálogo sencillo.
El contenido nos presenta algo de magia que, como tal, termina sorprendiendo al lector.
¿Lo principal de la pequeña novela?  Pues, "lo que no se documenta de la familia se pierde", y ella está preservando los recuerdos para el futuro.

miércoles, 22 de agosto de 2012

Review of Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone

Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
After I read this interesting story I wondered if it was a "children's book" or a book for adults with the capacity to follow a child's fantasy in their mind.
I decided that the plot was adult intended, though the adaptation to the cat species was a believable fantasy. After all, we have seen enough cats of all ages dressed in many garbs… of course, less than dogs. Cats are more dignified.
I tried reading some passages out loud as if telling a story to a child. It worked!
Yes, I want to read the sequel of this well-written and well edited book.
N.B.: I must add that I have read the following books of the Kiwi Series, and I wish I were a child to have someone read them to me!


1- When did you start to write, formally?
Hi, I started writing when I was young, probably in junior school. I remember that our class was reading Miss Pepperpot’s adventures and our homework was to write a similar story. I wrote one starring my classmates, and the teacher read it out and the kids liked it. That’s my first memory of writing something. I always wrote stuff, especially poetry, although it wasn’t autobiographical. The first book I actually finished was Kiwi in Cat City, so I think of that as my first real book. I wrote it in 2002, but I didn’t publish it until 2011, when I discovered KDP and Smashwords. Since then, I’ve been writing in earnest and really enjoying it. Last year I realised it’s what I really want to do.
2- Would the Kiwi Series be considered children's books?
Yes, I hope so! I wrote them for younger readers aged 10 up. I was reading from the age of three and just hoovered up books as a kid. I was reading books that were ‘too old’ for me, so I guess even younger kids may enjoy Kiwi. Around that age, I found books magical. I loved stories into which I could escape, where the real world didn’t exist. These worlds were more colourful, bigger, full of adventure and kids relied on themselves. I also loved animals. Worlds with magic and talking animals were my favourites. I loved them. Most of my Kiwi reviewers have been adults though, so I guess Kiwi is crossing over the age categories. And we’re all big kids really!
3- Do you have other artistic talents?
I wish! If only I could play anything or sing – my cousin and uncle are great singers. But, alas, I would only scare off the neighbourhood cats... or attract them, maybe. I used to be good at painting and drawing, but it’s a hobby that I stopped doing in my 20s. I’m not sure if I could still do it! Maybe I’d be doing matchstick cats and dogs! I like dancing, although it’s more for the pure freedom and fun of it than anything artistic! I probably resemble a living Pollock painting. I enjoy cooking. I like mixing and matching things, and making up combinations. My nan was a brilliant cook. To this day, I’ve never tasted pastry better than hers! Now my mouth is watering! And I love looking at art – paintings, sculpture, drawings. I love galleries.

miércoles, 15 de agosto de 2012

Review of With Proud Humility by Jess Mountifield

With Proud Humility by Jess Mountifield

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
Guess what warmed my heart: I encountered my notion of well-spoken English. This book was written almost formally. No can't,  don't et al, except in counted instances.
As to the content, this is not the "cliché" pirate story, though it did produce some flashbacks of Pirates of the Caribbean, sans the characters -- Errol Flynn instead -- but keeping the islands.
I have never known much about poker. Not only did I learn about the psychological intricacies of the players but also picked up information about the use of swords -- falchion, cutlass, scimitars.
Ms Mountifield was able to teach me about writing in UK English while telling a perky love story among two hot-headed yet delightfully conniving British subjects sans the "required" sex scene.
I hope there is more in the near future.
N.B.:  Yes, there is another one....

1- When did you start writing, creatively, formally?

Officially I started writing stories just over 5 years ago. I wrote bits and pieces as a child but it wasn't until a good friend asked me why I had stopped and I realised I did not have a good answer for him that I picked it back up and the idea for this book was born.
2- Did you have to research about poker?
I had to research a little bit, mostly just to get my facts straight, make sure poker had been invented then, and double check the order of hand ranks. I also talked a lot to other poker players and played it a fair bit myself to get a feel for how it was done. I think it helped that I grew up playing card games with my Grandma, father and siblings so I had a solid foundation for that kind of thing.
3- How did you become familiar with the Caribbean?
This was almost pure research. I'd never actually been but I watched a few well researched films on the subject as well as studying the Caribbean from both the piratical side and the side of English colonists. On top of that it was surprising what I managed to pick up from reading other books written in the same time period. Even one of Jane Austin's novels mentions the Caribbean and gives an insight to the general social standing there etc. To make sure I had got most of it right I also had someone proof the book who'd both lived in the Caribbean and had a history degree.

lunes, 13 de agosto de 2012

Review of The Trophy Saga by Paul M. Schofield

Trophy: Rescue (The Trophy Saga) by Paul M. Schofield

Review by Alex Canton-Dutari
I am always a bit afraid when reading a sequel, mainly because of the fear of not remembering the original work. In this case it came back strongly as the ...characters in the sequel continued developing a story that was definitely well stored in my mind.
The creation of an organized, religion-free society was interestingly developed as well as the Compu-Court, which cast doubts about a perfect computer trying to cater to all human needs.
Martin and Panther did remind me of vampires due to their lack of need to breathe, though with normal human feelings.
It was good reading that there is always hope for Mother Earth in the mind of the author. And the “time of the Great Sadness and the New Beginning” was a beautiful way of describing the motive of this good story.
Mr. Schofield has the ability of describing battles with such precision that the reader may feel like a close participant.
BTW, the concept of “joined consciousness” was quite unique creating a take-off from Jung’s collective unconscious put to practical use.
When I read End my first reaction was: I hope not!

1-When did you start creative writing, formally?
In 1991 I took a creative writing class in the adult-education program offered by Plantation High School, Plantation, FL. I worked on the hunting scene of Trophy as a short story. Thereafter the pages lay dormant in a drawer until late summer of 2009. With encouragement from an English-Lit friend I developed the rest of the book and after much editing and rewriting Trophy was published in February, 2010. I have continued writing and revising ever since.
2-How do you keep track of all the characters and is there a technique to maintain the storyline?
I have note cards and a list of all the characters, major and minor, with a short bio on each describing their physical characteristics, emotional tendencies and attitudes. I also keep track of how they are dressed and their rank, position, and employment in the storyline.
My books are written in third person point of view, present tense. I'll describe, usually with dialogue, what is happening to characters in one scene and then shift to other characters, keeping the same time frame or moving to the next sequential scene. I follow a rough outline and keep the storyline flowing in the forward direction using limited flashbacks only when necessary.
3-Do you have a family background of writers/artists?
I come from a creative family. My father is an architect and musician; my mother has an artistic streak for painting and poetry. I am also a musician with training on the piano, trombone, and self-taught on the guitar. I was part of a local rock band writing and playing our own music. It was a blast and it fostered my desire to continue being creative. My long-time career as a residential designer continues with the added bonus of finally becoming a published author, a goal I want to develop even further.

viernes, 10 de agosto de 2012

Review of Dante's Awakening by Devon Marshall

Dante's Awakening by Devon Marshall

Review by Alex Canton-Dutari
I started reading this book with all my preconceived notions about vampires -- Bram Stocker's and others. Watching movies about them was more entertaining than imagining what ...was in print. My fellow readers, was I in for a surprise this time…
Ms Marshall was able to convince me that vampires do exist and have more freedom than I ...thought -- sunlight, loving, and human social acceptance.
The story of "Vampire's of Hollywood" -- Dante's Awakening-- was straightforward, in wonderful English, depicting strong women both of the human type and their vampire counterparts. And the plot was quite believable -- especially by being set in California.
It is necessary to point out that most of the women were into Lesbian sex, which was a delight to read about -- explicitly enough but never vulgar. I jokingly told myself: "If women can produce that kind of orgasms, too bad I'm not one."
1- When did you start writing, formally?
 Like many writers, I've been writing stories since childhood, and had a couple of English teachers who thought I should pursue writing as a career. I kind of laughed the idea off back then. I formally began writing in 1999 when a small press magazine named 'Monomyth' accepted one of my short stories for publication. It was a dark thriller titled 'Blue Angel' about a guy on the brink of death who 'lives' an alternate version of his life. Something like that, it was a long time ago! I've had a mess of other short stories published in various places since then, and now two novels and a novella. So I guess I have got that 'career' underway now!
2- How difficult is it to write about lesbian themes?
Well, I'm gay myself, so I'm kind of living the issues! I guess the biggest issue for me would be the social and political aspects of being gay or lesbian. Some readers like to see these aspects of their lives reflected in fiction themes, and I totally get that. However, personally I don't enjoy too many of these themes in fiction, and I'm also uncomfortable, creatively speaking, including it in my own. I have opinions on these issues, of course, but when I read fiction - or indeed write it - I want it to be an escape from these often perplexing aspects of reality. Other than that the only real difference in lesbian themes is that the emotional dynamics of relationships can be somewhat different from male-female. Two women are more likely to think alike - on an emotional level - and to know what each other is thinking or feeling. Of course, like all rules in life, there are no shortage of exceptions to this one either!
3- Do you have other artistic abilities?
My housemate, who's an artist and musician, insists that I always underestimate how well I can sketch and draw cartoons. I certainly enjoyed studying art in school and at college, and spent some time working for a small local company that created advertising flyers. But it's been years since I even picked up a sketchbook so who knows what may or may not remain of that ability?

jueves, 9 de agosto de 2012

Review of The Last Resort by Valerie Douglas

The Last Resort by Valerie Douglas

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
I was impressed by how well Ms Douglas handled writing this novel completely in first person, which is not easy to do. It helped to almost participate in “her” quest.
The author has earned the right to be flexible with her punctuation – she has written enough books.
This is not my preferred genre, but it was comfortable to follow and, by the way, enabled me to learn something about new social trends – Goth, Wiccan…
Just a word for clarification: If the reference was to the country originating drugs, Colombia, not Columbia, is the correct one.
I am glad I read this book

1-When did you start to write, formally?
 Although I've been writing stories all my life it wasn't until about eight years ago that I settled down and got serious about it. I'd made attempts before, but it's like quitting smoking - you try, fail, get discouraged, try fail again, get determined, try, dig in and keep going.
2-Do you have a family background of writers? As far as I know I'm the first, although apparently I've inspired a cousin to give it a shot.
3-Do you have other artistic abilities? I have been a portrait artist, and I sing pretty well - I was asked to sing a solo at a church as a favor (because I knew the Latin version of O Come All Ye Faithful - Adeste Fideles)

miércoles, 8 de agosto de 2012

Why do I write novellas? / ¿Por qué escribo novelas cortas?

Think of a novella as a bonsai.  It is a miniature tree with all the components of its full-grown counterparts. 
It is great for writers who have the ability to dwell on the economy of words -- less is more. Of course, this is not necessarily true, as many people have difficulty expressing themselves in this fashion.  In a way, it is an art.
I was asked why I write novellas when most of them have many elements of my life and perhaps should be autobiographical works..  To this I usually respond with: The novella allows me to fictionalize the experience, and transform it depending on what I expected it to have been, as it is, and how I envision the future.  That's the liberty granted to a writer.

¿Qué es una novella?  Imaginen un bonsái -- un árbol en miniatura con todos los componentes de sus hermanos naturales.
Este medio creativo es perfecto para los escritores que se manejan bajo el concepto de la economía de palabras -- menos es más.  Aunque, ésto no es necesariamente cierto, ya que muchas personas tiene dificultades para utilizar menos palabras que otras.  En cierto modo, es un arte.
Me han preguntado por qué escribo novellas cuando en casi todas aparecen muchos elementos de mi vida real y tal vez debería catalogar mis obras como autobiográficas.  Lo cierto es que la novella me permite convertir la experiencia en ficción y transformarla dependiendo de lo que hubiera querido que fuera, como fue en realidad, y como la veo en el futuro. En esto consiste la libertad del escritor.

Review of The Blackmail Club by David Bishop

The Blackmail Club by David Bishop

Review by Alex Canton-Dutari
My first pleasure line was learning the origins of the expression blarney . I appreciate receiving lessons in word history. To this I should add the Irish brogue one of the characters used.
Author Bishop is really an expert at choosing his themes, and this one was worded perfectly in narration and dialogue. Let's include descriptions such as "…she had a body that made clothes come alive." Or "…with jowls drooping as if her mouth were serving quarters…"
I like to look for possible messages hidden between the lines. The story seems to convey the notion that social sins, especially of youth and greed will turn into heavy burdens in later life.
Along the narration one of the characters referred to a psychiatrist as a "quack." It was a stroke of genious to have written his name followed by "Doctor of Psychiatry." This degree does not exist; a psychiatrist is an MD with a certification of residency in Psychiatry. Hence, the term "quack" was well sustained.
It was a most entertaining read.

1- When did you start writing, formally?
That was in the early 80s. I owned and operated a company that did valuations of privately owned companies, or partial interests therein, and also intangible assets. One of my marketing efforts from the early 90s to the early 2000s was to write technical financial articles on valuation of business interests and intangible assets for accounting/financial/legal journals. I had one published each quarter for that ten year period. Then in 2001, along with a fellow business valuation expert, we published a nonfiction book on valuing privately owned company for merging with or acquisition by a publicly traded company. Then in 2002 I started writing fiction exclusively.
2- Do you have any artistic talents?
Well, when I was a child I played on the linoleum. LOL. No. None. I want to learn to play the piano but can't find the time. Is a golf game "artistic?" Certainly not the way I play it.
3- Do you have a favourite theme?I'm not sure how specific or broad that question is. I love golf, try to play twice a week, sometimes it's only once. I work out three times a week. I love to road travel and ocean cruise. And, of course, I totally love to write mysteries. And hear from readers.
I hope this answered this question.
I appreciate your interest in me and my writing. Thank you.

jueves, 2 de agosto de 2012

Review of Nuns: A Memoir by Bernard Mendillo

Nuns: A Memoir by Bernard Mendillo
Review by Alex Canton-Dutari
Though I was not educated by nuns, Jesuits were in charge of making sure my morals went along the Catholic paths, many of which started pouring through as I read this personal ...account of the author's years in grade school.
It is unusual to find a story which exposes wrongs that make a person re-evaluate beliefs and take pertinent actions such as leaving the Church; instead, it does not send a message of revenge but of understanding.
The author is able to compose wonderful graphic sentences: "...Electrons flock to pure gold like Jesuits to a good stake burning."
I felt a bit embarrassed by the mention of "Noriega madness." Of course, this stems from my being from the former dictator's country, Panama.
Oh, yes. I still cry out "St. Blaise!" whenever I get something stuck in my throat.
This is a serious book written with a good undercurrent of humour in plain good English.
1- When did you start writing, formally?I started writing in high school.
In college, I majored in creative writing--and started to consider myself a professional writer in grad school when I won a nationwide playwrighting contest.
2- Did any of your children go to Catholic school?None of my children went to Catholic school.
I no longer consider myself Catholic and have not raised my children in any formal religion.
3-How difficult is it to write in the first person?Writing in the first person is actually easier than writing in the first person.
I can just be myself in the first person.
I don't have to be "in character" because I am the character.
Of course, writing a memoir means that I have to pay strict attention to facts and details--I have to get dates and names and places right.
In a novel, I can just make things up.

miércoles, 1 de agosto de 2012

"La Mujer Que Nunca Se Maquilló" - Presentación

Éste es un tema que siempre me ha llamado la atención: Los padres ausentes y los hijos que sufren las consecuencias.
Si recuerdo la sociología del asunto, parece que es un círculo vicioso que se rompe cuando un miembro de la descendencia decide romper la cadena.  Generalmente un eslabón se abre, aunque no siempre por decisión sino por casualidad.
Me caracterizo por escribir novelas cortas, en las cuales trato de jugar con los tiempos, el personaje de la nararativa y apoyándome, especialmente, en los diálogos.  No es diferente en "La Mujer Que Nunca Se Maquilló."  Y, como es característico en todas mis novelas cortas, siempre hay un elemento de la vida real; aunque, exponerlo en una novela permite alterarlo a mi antojo.
Algunas personas que han leido mis obras anteriores piensan que ésta es la mejor.  La opinión de los lectores les pertenece y me alegra.  
Una vez que el libro se publica ya no pertenece al autor sino al público.
N.B.: Me han preguntado si pienso traducir esta novela corta al idioma Inglés.  Por ahora no... Contiene muhos regionalismos que no se traducen fácilmente, y la prosa en Español tiene una cadencia que se perdería en tal idioma en esta obra. Mas, veremos...

Review of Tell a Thousand Lies by Rasana Atreya

Tell A Thousand Lies by Rasana Atreya
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
"The knock, this late in the evening, was as unexpected as road repairs in a non election year." ….. "Don't tell lies… otherwise girls will be born to you."
The above phrases prepared me for the social indignities that would be unveiled throughout this wonderful novel.
Ms. Atreya wrote in English-as-a-second-language. I must say that she may put many a native English speaker to shame.

1. When did you begin to write, formally?
If you mean novel length fiction, it was about four years ago. I tried my hand at flash fiction for a year before that, but short stories weren't cutting it, so I turned to novels.
2-How long did it take you to write this book?
Three years, off and on. For a year I worked on another book which wasn't going anywhere, so I went back and finished "Tell A Thousand Lies." Which wasn't a bad thing because writing this novel was a great learning experience.
But my first novel wouldn't let go, so I'm back at it.
3-Do you have a family background of authors?
None at all. But writing's always fascinated me. Even when I was working as a systems administrator, maintaining and repairing computers, I had the best written manuals!