I like Farmer Frank's, and normally run out to read what he thoughtfully recommends, but I was asked to read "OFF ROAD" by Stephen E. Wright and give him a review. So I read it and put it on the procrastination pile for many reasons, but when SailorCurt did his review it meant my good intentions were going bad so I have written and filed my review and link to SailorCurt's for balance and fairness. I am a poor writer and way too opinionated to be a nice guy. But this is my review:
Humm, this is my review of "Off Road", by Stephen E. Wright, who I have met on the internet and through blogging, so I have opinions before I even open the book. First I am honored to have been asked to read it, as if my opinion matters at all, second I think I should find an interesting book hidden between the cover sheets since I have read some of his writing before, and last I have to decide if it would go on our library shelves.
So I have finished reading "Off Road", and I had my biggest problem with the worthless main character - I wanted to beat him up and straighten his attitude about life up, and he was already too old and too lost to be worth my time and ancient talents. I hated the guy, named Paul, his only saving grace would be blindness and conversion and I wasn't in charge of that option. Every move he made, all his thoughts were anti-me, which meant as a stereo-type of folks I wouldn't be around, he fit the bill perfectly. Now his brother, Gary, I knew from where I grew up and where I have been and I wouldn't have minded saying hello to him, but then since I don't off road I would have just looked on in awe and helped hook up towing cables and belts when needed, his camping was good, too. Since I don't off road but have been stuck many places I had no real benefit of the technical possibilities presented in the detail - it could have been pared down to the critical points, especially when the narrator (Paul) had little idea of what was going on beyond dangerous but they could do it. I think the rifle of the father, was really a beauty and could do some great shooting, but I don't think Paul would have made those shots presented on the first shooting scene, I have done some teaching, there aren't a lot of people that shoot up to the potential of the firearm, without lots of practice - especially long range shooting.
So those two technical sticking points were not what the story was about, so what did I think of the three men getting together for a weekend of family fun, off roading? Well, I think that could have happened and would have been very good and is the major reason this story becomes important -- I think Gary would have been learning things from Paul, although it didn't seem to be happening. I know that their father would have treasured every step of this trip, and had to rest long and hard until the next challenge, breathing oxygen at altitude means your life is already on suck, you grab everything you can when you can, and rest up between times. I could believe that Paul was changing a little bit, forcing him to face his father's and his own extinction and the phony life he had been leading were almost convincing, but since I had given up on him as a real human being early on in the book I wasn't convinced he could be converted to the Light. Having issues with the past in my own life, I know that one has to conquer those long before this story did. Gary had because of his belief, and Paul should have because there wasn't anything he could have done about it, and the father - he would have, should have held on much tighter to all he had left, although I think the story does give him credit for support, he needed to be the role model of manhood, and that is too missing, which is why Paul is a basket case Metrosexual and Gary is just a Guy going Good.
A very powerful, convincing and important death scene, especially dragging the unbelieving Paul into the prayer. I would have figured Paul for getting a coffee and sitting thinking about the weekend and getting back to work, but then I didn't like him from the start of the book, not one thing did I identify as something I could be considerate of his lifestyle choices. There should have been one I could have empathized with, don't you think?
I do know that this book goes on the shelf in my library, it does have important points, is about things that my patron population needs to think about and some of them that are real off roaders will enjoy parts of it, the ones that will benefit from it will only if it is on the shelves and taken down and read. The sure knowledge that you can make a change in your own life, that you are responsible for your life and that others (whom you laughed at, looked down upon, or victimized) might be part of your salvation comes through in this book.
Hmm, my review is a rough as I thought his story, maybe he should review my review - nah, don't. Thank him for writing the book, and asking me to read it.