Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review of The Petorik Thesis and Tales of The Global West

The Petorik Thesis and Tales of The Global West  by W. Jack Savage
Genre: Fiction
A collection of short stories, some of which can be found online in ezines. The Cynic online magazine is featuring both stories "Tupperware' and "The Dog Across the Street." The View From Here is featuring "The Suits and the Killer." All three are from The Petorick Thesis and Tales of the Global West.   

 Stories included in this collection:
  • Yellow Food
  • Sally's
  • The Story of Baggs House
  • Arnie's Bagman
  • Howie and Katherine
  • She Cleaned
  • The Dog Across the Street
  • Christmas at Fort Leonard Wood (an excerpt from The Children Shall Be Blameless)
  • The Witness
  • 'Tupperware'
  • The Global Citizen
  • The Suits and the Killer
  • The Awards
  • The Ticket
  • The Petorik Thesis
My Review:  3/5
I need to start off by saying, I feel so conflicted in writing this review.  I feel as though I might be cheating it an extra point due to some offenses that might not be an issue at all, to a great deal of the population.  But, my thoughts, my feelings and my opinion are all I have to offer.

The short stories in this collection range from mystery and suspense to heart-warming and touching.  They were intriguing, thought-provoking, diverse and some even poignant.  There are twists and turns and mysteries to be solved in several.  W. Jack Savage is a master of character dialogue.  His writing style is easy, and highly intelligent, like his characters.

The reason for my conflict is the need to both compliment and criticize the voice of his characters.  I may fumble the explanation, but bear with me.  I feel this is an important enough issue to readers, such as myself, to make the attempt.   As far as movies go, I'm a great fan of the classics.   I have my mom to thank for this.  At an early age, she would sit me down and make me watch movies like Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof and The Maltese Falcon.  I developed an appreciation and admiration for the simple elegance of the dialogue of that era.  People had vocabularies and used them, they spoke in a casual, yet sophisticated way.  In doing so, their words conveyed so much more than the obvious.  There's a romantic, almost-archaic tone.  When the characters interact, witty banter and sexual undertone become partners in a fluid waltz.  This is how most of the characters in Mr. Savage's book speak and I got caught up in it.  This aspect of the book, I enjoyed immensely.  Combine this with some of the most creative and clever plots I've ever read and you have a noteworthy book.  Were there times I could predict the outcomes?  Yes.  But, there were an equal amount of times I was taken by complete surprise, too.  The stories, for the most part, were entertaining journeys.

Now, for my complaint.

I already described above how beautifully it was written, at times.  But, on too many occasions I'd find myself enthralled in a story and then the dialogue would take a turn and be riddled with profanity and offensive language.  I'd go as far as calling some it vulgar.  This repeatedly jolted me out of the book.  Jolted.  As I contemplated what I would say in this review, I decided it was necessary to acknowledge that, yes, a large percentage in our society do, in fact, speak like the characters in these stories.  I, myself,  have used 90% of the offensive words in this book, but it's been almost two decades since I have.  I no longer have a high tolerance for reading/hearing this kind of language.  It plagued me to the extent that I almost didn't finish the book.   It's not that I can't overlook a word or two, in books or in movies, if it's relevant to the story or characters, I do it all the time.  I'm saying that in this case, I found the profane language to be in extreme overabundance.  I think the stories would have had the desired effect without all of it.  And I know some would argue that it was necessary, it painted a more vivid, realistic picture of  the characters' lifestyles, environment, circumstances, upbringing or what have you.  And to them I would say, that it's a valid argument, but I simply don't agree.

I'd like to stress that not all the stories presented this problem, for me.  Some of the stories I most enjoyed were: The Story of Baggs House, Howie and Katherine, The Dog Across the Street and The Ticket.  These were simply fantastic stories that had everyday, ordinary people brought together by chance, affecting others with their unique perspectives on life, understanding, talents and love.  They had great depth and provided a lot of food for thought.  They're examples of brilliant writing and character development.  I think readers, who aren't as sensitive to language as I am, would really appreciate this collection of short stories that are intelligent, witty and provocative, as W. Jack Savage is undoubtedly a talented writer and storyteller.

Purchase links:
About the author:
Walter "Jack" Savage is a retired broadcaster and Associate Professor of Telecommunications and Film. He is Vietnam Veteran and graduate of The University of Minnesota, Mankato and received his Master's Degree from California State University, Los Angeles. The Petorik Thesis and Tales of the Global West is Jack's fourth book and second short story collection. His first effort, Bumping and Other Stories, was followed by two novels: More With Cal and Uncle Bill and State Champions last year. His third novel, The Children Shall Be Blameless is due out later this year. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California.
You can find W Jack Savage:
His website here

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