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.


Fire Thief Reborn

Fire Thief Reborn, The Edge of the Known – Book Four. ISBN: 9781523998210, an e-book by Seth Mullins.

Brandon Chane had risen to phenomenal heights as a very young rock star who with his band had provided original music and lyrics of sensational appeal in that they offered a degree of understanding and answers to a generation looking for them. Fearing he had reached the end of all he could offer and never liking the notoriety he just ‘walked away’ after his meteoric rise. Now several years later he is besieged with the gnawing desire to again write music and lyrics, but fears he no longer has anything to write about. In the old days the band was something with which he ‘needed to make a statement’ for his own salvation. As a 31-year-old happily married man with a young son he is living most comfortably on the huge amount of money he had made. What sort of statement could he make? But fate steps in. He encounters his old lighting man James who also is a talented guitarist; his much younger sister, for whom he always had felt a responsibility, has a small band with which he would like to help her begin, and at this time he revisits the counselor who had helped him when he was a desperate youth struggling with the problems of a mother who provided nothing and an abusive father. In a distinctly unusual manner, the counselor begins to reminisce about his abusive childhood and his own attendant reactions and continues for several sessions during which Brandon and James interject guitar notes and devise tentative lyrics, all later edited and expanded by the entire band into songs hopefully suitable for a rebirth of the former ragingly popular Edge of the Known Band.

For this reviewer, in all true sincerity, after being greatly impressed by the author’s third book, Humanity’s Way Forward, this one is disappointing. The book begins extremely well with quite cogent and enlightening remarks for anyone who has not experienced the highs of a successful performance in music, the arts or even to a certain extent in situations as widely diverse as sports and academic endeavors; e.g. “No experience to compare to that of a performer and audience meeting at that singular point of keenest need and its fulfillment. There really is no dichotomy anymore, no separation, when you’re having a dialogue with your naked origins, the music meditating between Soul and Source; the music having to do for you, because the bare bones experience of it is too vast and star-hot for any of us to encounter it face-to-face.” Also beautifully expressive prose: “As the music began to vibrate over the grass and to spring across every nerve ending, I was reminded again of the particular pain that accompanies the too-full moment. It’s an ache that you can’t quite reach and massage with your mental fingers; the sense that your poignant love of the world, fragile as it seems, is too big to be contained within your breast. It has to flow over, like flood waters over the tops of sluice gates, so you siphon it through your songs or poems or stories, knowing that this release can only be momentary. And not only that, but the very vehicle that you’ve chosen to express it then turns around and whets the sharp edge of your sensitivity so that you seem to NEED that release again, more than ever before.”

Beyond this early nicely phrased material it provides extensive and interesting psychological and philosophical discussions that in turn greatly aid in defining characters and setting the stage for what is to transpire. Generally is well written but for this reader at an almost glacial pace. Perhaps this disappointment stems from the fact that the author’s preceding book so brilliantly provided a window to a phenomenon so seldom understood. He provided a comprehensible description and/or explanation for, and of, the seemingly mass hysteria that often accompanies performances of today’s performers of so-called underground or alternative music and of the performers themselves – generation(s) that never acquired a firm basis upon which to build a life. For the abused the reaction is most easily understood; those from the middle and upper strata of society perhaps never found the necessity of building a firm base because they have been provided with most of the amenities for teen-age life with seldom a denial. Thus, faced with the uncertainties and turmoil rampant in today’s simple act of living – economic uncertainty, political unrest, angst, loss, conflict – they are lost and looking desperately for ANY answer, not so much because it is true but rather because it saves them from the discomfort of living in uncertainty.

In this book, the author has attacked another facet of living and has assumed an enormous task. In the former the protagonist wrote songs because he was lonely, desperate and scared. In this volume he is attempting to provide feelings and answers to questions that may or may not be as pertinent to the needs of his audience and from a far more mature position. Such a journey is torturous in the extreme to say the least and the author’s resulting presentation may well reflect this level of difficulty.

3* 4* Portrait of dilematous position of a former ‘great’; 3* compared with preceding book regrettably.