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Midlisters, by Kealan Patrick Burke Book Review | SFReader.com
Midlisters, by Kealan Patrick Burke Genre: Horror Publisher: Biting Dog Press Published: 2007 Review Posted: 8/26/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10
Midlisters, by Kealan Patrick Burke
Book Review by Adrienne Jones
Have you read this book?
Anyone in the creative arts learns to walk the tightrope between acceptance and rejection, no one is immune, even after a few pats on the head from the Success Fairy. When people read Midlisters by Kealan Patrick Burke, they're going to say that he captured this perfectly, the life of an artist, particularly a writer. They'll be right. But it's how he chose to present this theme that makes this subtly layered story unique.
An actor can accurately claim that a role performed was completely separate from him. But can a writer say the same about his work? This 'connect versus disconnect' plagues our protagonist, Jason Tennant. Tennant writes horror, a genre that adds an extra dollop of angst for an author fielding questions. While most writers hear 'Where do you get your ideas?' the horror writer gets the sneering, 'How do you think of that STUFF?' version.
Questioning the validity of his chosen field, Tennant burrows into self-doubt as he becomes fixated on the novels of an alternate genre author, projecting insecurities outward rather than confront his intimacy with his own writing. He tries to detach from his gruesome murder mysteries, and make his work a separate entity from himself. But this tactic backfires when he gets invited to be a guest at a convention. Suddenly we see the story foundations of Tennant's fiction novels bleeding into his reality.
While Kealan Patrick Burke excels at internal dialogue and quick character development, this plot tactic is what's most impressive. We're so drawn into the nuts and bolts of Tennant's convention road trip that we almost miss the other layer; the perfect yet possibly faithless wife; the tire explosion and car breakdown; the hitchhiker just happening by, all aspects of Tennant's own novel plots, staining through into his world. And the climactic event at the convention, (which I won't reveal and spoil the surprise), literally drives this point home for our main character.
Tennant's books, it seems, want acknowledgment, and they don't take kindly to being dissed, a vague personification symbolizing the suppression of his creative fruit. Thinking the horrors in his novels don't belong to him, he makes the mistake of disconnecting his personal self from his writing. But a writer must own his work, in every sense of the word, as it is a part of him, connected on a deeply personal level, as evidenced by Tennant's melting pleasure in response to the convention fans' attentions.
A thoughtful, creative and colorfully entertaining way to explore the inescapable duality of being a fiction writer, Midlisters is a truly refreshing read.
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