May 19, 2011

Blue Hotel ***

Blue Hotel, JT Conroe, 2011

Last year, after a three-year sojourn in the wilderness of screenwriting, I returned to my homeland, the novel. I've got three works in progress and plan to release the first one, Muffin Man, in early 2012. So, for all you Fred Book fans out there who have been wanting something new from the Whittington pen, your day is coming.

I said all that to get to the point of the fact that I've swapped my screenwriting critique group for a novel-writing critique group. It's been great fun, reading stuff and savaging it. Heh, heh. Last month one of the writers released Blue Hotel on Amazon as a Kindle book for the felicitous price of $2.99 and I snatched it up. (By the way, if you haven't already, drop by my post on e-book prices and give me your thoughts.)

Now you might be thinking, "I'll skip this review because I don't have a Kindle." And you would be wrong, because you can download a free Kindle viewer for your computer, so that matters not. And this is a book worth getting the viewer for, or even a Kindle, as you can get one for $114 these days.

I'll admit that I didn't have high hopes for Blue Hotel when I bought it. Nothing against the author, who is a great guy, but it's just the odds. I know a lot of great guys who are not very good writers, even some who are traditionally published. It's surprisingly hard to write a good novel, even if you're a reasonably good writer, and often even very good writers fail to pull it off. But I was willing to take a stab at it for a brother-in-arms.

By the time I was halfway into Chapter 1, it was no longer a labor of obligation. It moved like a freight train and I hung on for the ride. I read the first third of the book in once sitting and forced myself to stop because it was two a. m. and I figured it might be nice to get some sleep for the day job the next day. I read another third the next night, and finished it the next. And I'm still thinking about some of the scenes and characters a week later.

The novel is set in and around the location of a Stephen Crane short story, "The Blue Hotel." You don't have to read the short story to enjoy the book, but it is interesting to do so, anyway.

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