Chasing Squirrels in Retrospect

Chasing Squirrels in Retrospect, virtual autobiographical ruminations in an e-book format by Stephanie Lawless.

The story follows a sizeable section of the life of protagonist Georgia (George), a young woman with a closely knit family as she enjoys her position in the UK as a fund raiser for the Diabetes Association while taking care of her 18-year-old incontinent dog and her ninety plus year old Aunt D. who was a “…woman with an inconsistent level of wisdom, rampant memory loss and a desire for a constant tidal wave of tea.” Georgia reflects at length on her “chubby, unhappy, romance-free adolescence” resulting in a relatively low self-esteem but, with a loving family, develops a personality inclined to a humorous approach that garners friendly relationships. The story continues with fairly lengthy, often humorous, descriptions of sections of her life where she indulges in outrageous, even dangerous, stunts to raise money for the charity among other activities. These include equally amusing attempts to find romance through the internet and speed dating, discovery of a mentally depleting unrequited true love, attempts to trace down the perpetrator of systematic fraud of Aunt D and the heartache of loss of loved family members.

Discussion: This story certainly must have offered a relatively complete and welcome catharsis for the author as she pursues her memories ranging from many humorous incidents, through those that were more poignant to others of a distressingly sad but with perhaps a bittersweet touch. The author has described each of the incidents and emotions generated quite well and has provided an interesting, often amusing, and usually most appropriate quote at the beginning of each chapter. The only feature that was a bit disconcerting to this reader was some of the verbalization that perhaps is indigenous to the author’s area of residence plus a need for a little editorial aid in sections.

4* Interestingly written virtual autography devotees will enjoy.

Black’s Beach Parallax

Black’s Beach Parallax
ISBN: 9780692224311, an e-book thriller including numerous long contentiously debated occurrences of the 1960’s and following years by Scott Spade.

Plot: A prologue speaks of a package from Jack O’Malley addressed to his grandson and not to be opened until after his death. The story then proceeds to follow Jack’s life. It begins with his first job as a fresh UCLA graduate at Astro Dynamics, a company working under government contract; follows with his dismissal with downsizing ordered by McNamara; activity at making a living as a professional gambler with his discovered ability to read cards and gamble (in San Diego where small mom/pop gambling houses limited to a few tables of “games of skill’ of insufficient interest to attract the Mafia and their larger Las Vegas ‘games of chance’); to receipt of an offer from Gene, a brilliant former co-worker who has taken a position with an ultra-secrete ‘Think Tank’- the offer is too good to decline but requires clandestine activity that includes deposition of information in a far-removed hidden place; additional activity as a real estate investor and ultimately as a dealer in futures. Abundant, well-described ‘hippie’ and subsequent other sub-culture activity of the era is included and the story moves at a good pace, especially considering the amount of information that is included.

Discussion: The author has provided a most interesting story that should have appeal on two levels. First, a story depicting a period within the United States of tremendous upheaval and change viewed largely from the activity of one ‘largely committed’ active participant of the era. Specifically: “…embracement of the counterculture revolution in social norms of clothing, music drugs, dress and sex. Eclectic psychologists, antiwar activists, sexual-freedom advocates, new agers, draft dodgers, college professors, discussions ranging from intelligent interchanges to new-age gibberish.” Second, a most provocative re-counting and re-examination of the involvement of prominent governmental personnel and agencies in many of the controversial happenings of the times – Vietnam War, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Kennedy’s assignation, Nixon activities, aspects of the Cold War, Cuba, Batista and Castro, others.

Conclusion: Fascinating, not documented perhaps, but at least tantalizingly provocative circumstantial evidence of FBI, CIA and even higher elected/appointed governmental official involvement in nefarious clandestine activity. The author has enclosed this material in an easy reading tale of an intelligent young college graduate as he ‘goes with the flow’ of the somewhat tumultuous era of the 1960’s and beyond. It is particularly intriguing to the reader interested in, and conversant with the tales set forth daily by the media with respect to political maneuvering and the myriad suggestions of malfeasance and innumerable other improper activities extant today.

5* Excellent conjecture on governmental malfeasance enclosed in enjoyable tale of another era.