A couple of weeks ago, Todd A
offered bloggers a free copy of his book Being Good,
if we'd promise to read the book and then write a review of it. Several Nashville area bloggers were quick to take advantage of it, including yours truly.
I took advantage of this for a couple of reasons. One is that I'm a read-a-holic. Another is--hey, free book! You really can't go wrong there. (Well, you can, but most times if the author is confident enough in his or her writing to give you more than just a few sample pages, this is a good thing). A third was--hey, local writer. If I like the book enough, I can buy a copy, have him sign it and when he becomes the next Stephen King, I can say, "Yeah, I knew him before he was huge..." And, of course, sell said autographed first-edition on E-Bay for a tidy profit.
But, I digress.
The real question you all are wondering about is--was the book a good one?
The short answer is: yes.
With his first-person protagonist Slav, Todd has created an interesting, dynamic and very human guy. Slav is a teacher at an all girls school and loves his job. He enjoys teaching literature and exposing young minds to the great literature of the world as well as expanding the horizons of his student. Professionally, Slav is doing very well. On the personal side, it's a bit less orderly. Slav is what I'd call a serial dater. He dates and beds a variety of women throughout the book and we hear of various conquests and relationships that occurred before the events. In some ways, Slav is a bit like the characters from Seinfeld--he dates the women and then discards them to move onto someone new. Slav seems to see women as disposable--if you screw it up with one, there's always another one coming along or already on the radar as it were.
Slav begins to have issues when his personal life and his profesional life come dangerously close. At a strip club, he encounters a former student, who he tries to help get back on the right track, serving as mentor. Of course, her boyfriend doesn't take well to this and since he's a bouncer, Slav is beaten up and then arrested.
The one thing that unites all of Slav's decisions is that, at the time, he was doing the right thing. It's just later and by outsiders that his actions and motivations are called into question. He has the best of intentions, most of the time, but somehow he is quick to succumb to tempations and start following a path. As a reader, we can often see how things might play out but there are times when Slav tries to do the right thing, only to have it thrown back in his face or taken out of context.
I have to admit, as a character, I found Slav compelling. Todd has created a voice for his character and stays within it. Even when Slav relates frank details of his sexual experiences (and they do pepper the book..this is not one for the kiddos!), he remains consistent. In many ways, Slav is an anti-hero, but he's one who reminds you of guys you know (and possibly even parts of yourself that you don't care to talk about or share in the light of day), so you find yourself rooting for him to overcome the obstacles placed in his path.
And when the situations do resolve and the story reaches its conclusion, it feels authentic. There's no happily ever after here, but instead a sense of this is where one chapter ends and another begins. When I got to the end of Slav's story, I was satisfied in how the situation was resolved but there were enough other interesting storylines out there that I honestly wouldn't mind spending a few more pages going journeying with Slav.
But don't just take me word for it. Seems that Todd is offering the book as a free e-book download to anyone who wants to sample it over at his site. Give it a try, I think you'll enjoy it.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/13/2006 12:13:00 PM