AN ISLAND OF FIFTY is a new literary bomb, resulting in the shrapnel of gold, ships, ocean, chandeliers, dreams, blood, & flame. Old & stale literature won't know what just hit. This is something new masking itself in the old & I'm so so so excited ---Shane Jones, author of LIGHT BOXES
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Ben Brooks was born in 1992. AN ISLAND OF FIFTY is his third novel. He currently lives in Gloucester, England.Review:
An Island of Fifty, the third novel by Ben Brooks (Mud Luscious Press), is a confounding story written in an unique (and, after the first two chapters, mildly annoying) prose style. A story of the plight caused by industrial civilization , An Island of Fifty is, if nothing else, ambitious in its execution. Self expression, allowing oneself to write what he wants, in whatever manner he chooses, is worth congratulating or at least acknowledging without a hint of negativity. Citizens of an unnamed island, existing in an unidentified period of time, discover industrial civilization an esoteric phrase that could be swapped for capitalism, technology, or classism. Or perhaps colonization, as ships arrive at the island; sailors and religious fanatics bring with them the usual tools of deforestation, humiliation of the islanders, and a general disrespect for Mama Earth. Creative expression ruled in An Island of Fifty and, in the process, bypassed fiction s usual crafty suspects: character development, subtext, and tension. Novelists, depending on the project at hand, are free to decide what to show the reader and what to hide even the hidden parts, if done well, can suggest or allude to the writer s intent, a wink-and-nod technique of sorts. In other words, Brooks presumes too much: the reader should care about industrial civilization and its impact to the island, to its citizens. The problem is that Brooks skipped a few steps: the novel fails to develop the characters, leaving the reader with ambivalence, at best. Why should one care for The Miller, Hector, et al? Who are these people beyond their given names? And while plenty of action occurs, An Island of Fifty conjures no tension, no drama. Since one is left indifferent about the characters, their movements, their decisions are analogous to action figures in the hands of a child: they serve the whims of their owner, rather than existing as sentient, complex beings. Without any investment into the characters, the story arc rises and falls like a firecracker thrown by a limp-armed pitcher. In the end, Brooks produced a manifesto in the guise of a thinly veiled fable on the perils of industrial civilization and the displacement of priorities: money over humanity, materialism over decency, power over fairness and justice. Unorthodox storytelling and acrobatic narrative only adds texture to a fully-baked novel the result creates a platform to both satisfy the writer s creative energies and the reader s desire for a good book. And when a book is ambitious, a laudable goal in its own right, the basics need attention, not circumvention for the sake of prosaic style and a bludgeoning theme. An Island of Fifty is ambitious and stylistic, but without the foundation of provocative characters to give the text breadth and tension, the book panders to the novelist s ambition as a redeeming literary value, in hopes that style will trump substance and keep the reader s attention. Unfortunately, An Island of Fifty s unnecessary prose style, coupled with its heavy-handed theme, isn t enough to salvage the narrative and entice the reader to care. --Thomas DeMary, PANK
Reading Ben Brooks is a unique experience - in a good way and in a bad way. Because of the way he plays with spacing and font size, you never forget that you re reading something by Ben Brooks, but on that same note, you never forget that you re reading, so it s hard to get lost in the words. That being said, the man writes some damn fine sentences, and in the end I like him up and down the street. Misery looks good on people, but only as an outfit. Like, all my favorite music is nihilistic and snotty about it, and all of my favorite people say that life is meaningless, and Woody Allen made some damn fine movies. I fell in love with a woman once because she was so sad in the way that I am so sad, but the funny thing is that neither of us are all that sad. We just think a lot and get overwhelmed and know that death is the end, and from the outside that looks like sadness. But the truth is that we are both really happy people. We do cry kind of a lot, but that s just something that comes with thinking all the time and being aware of death. Also, being around other people makes us sad. Also, we feel sort of lost a lot, like lost at sea with no land in sight, but oh well... Anyway, I feel like Ben Brooks cries kind of a lot, and that he s not always the fun guy at parties, and I feel like he probably dislikes a lot of people and would rather be alone. In other words, I feel like I would sort of get along with Ben Brooks, and I think that the girl I just mentioned probably would too. Can you like a book based on individual sentences? Because this is what keeps happening when I read Ben Brooks. I fall in love with a sentence - just head over heels. Like, I want to meet this sentence s father and ask for her hand in marriage, and then knock up the sentence on our wedding night. Then I want to raise the child - half man, half sentence - and then, if it is ever legal, I want to marry the child that the sentence and I produce and just keep making horrifyingly beautiful babies. Like, these sentences make me shiver the same as a lover s wandering hands. But every time I find a sentence like this it is followed by three sentences that don t grab me as much (but are important to the movement of the narrative) and I forget the one that I was all into. It s tough because I am not one to highlight or underline, but with his work I totally want to. But then what happens when I loan this book out? I would totally be shoving my favorite sentences down my friends throats, and I don t want to do that. I mean like, no thanks. An island and a group of people ruined by industry. You know, more or less. It s good. I like it. My ex-girlfriend tried to read it but got lost in the shape of it and put it down. It s not for everyone, but it is beautiful in its own little way. You write sentences that break my heart and glue it back together just to steal it and hide it away from me. I tell people about your books all the time. I hope you write for years to come, and I look forward to what comes next. --Riley Michael Parker, Housefire
I feel like the distinction between self and others in this context is superficial. Meaning you are human, part of humanity, your concerns are humanity s concerns. Therefore, whatever you choose to write about is a thing. No sense in worrying about things that don t worry you. There s enough that worries you naturally. Responsibility towards yourself and for yourself is responsibility towards everyone. An example related is Ben Brooks s An Island of Fifty. ALL of Brooks s novels are my favorites, but admittedly Island is my least so far. I think because, in it, Ben attempted some bigworld hardhits: capitalism, industrialization, nihilism, societal breakdown, etc. And I believe maybe (I don t know for sure but plausibly) he had an end, to teach us something of us. His heart was good, his vision keen, certainly ambitious for an 18-year-old or anyone really. I m sure Lorin Stein would grant him that, even without an MFA. But ultimately the reading felt too intent in showing us something about society, instead of just showing us us, the way his other novels do. --Ani Smith, We Who Are About to Die
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Descrizione libro Mud Luscious Press, 2010. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria P110983026343
Descrizione libro Mud Luscious Press, 2010. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0983026343