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Book Review – Other Loves

Other LovesOther Loves

Levi Montgomery

ISBN 978-1441401526

218 Page paperback

$12.95

 

Levi Montgomery’s Other Loves is the best independently published book I’ve read.  It’s actually the second book by Levi that I’ve read, the first was Cursing the Cougar which was the second best independently published book I’ve read.  I guess you can say I’ve become a Levi Montgomery fan. 

    Other Loves is a collection of four novellas, linked by the theme that Levi calls ‘coming of age’ but I would consider to simply be love.  How we find it, how it finds us, and how we lose it again.  Most of his characters are young, like Duncan in the first novella called The Summer of Being.  Duncan meets Nikki while both of their families are on a vacation to the beach.  He has never heard of a summer romance, but at the tender age of 17 he finds himself in the middle of one.

    I was trying to come up with a good way to explain why exactly I like the writing, but probably the best way is to share an excerpt.  In this small snippet, Nikki has just finished telling Duncan about losing her father:

    “After a few minutes, she pulls away, snuffling and wiping her face with her hands, and he lets her be.  She just breathes for a while, gazing out across the water like she’s seeing something.  He doesn’t bother looking for it.  Whatever she’s looking at isn’t anything he could see if he looked.  He’s got the little stick in his hands now, peeling all the dry bark off of it, splitting it open, scraping out all the pith.  She takes a long time, and he’s nibbling little chunks off the stick with his thumbnail when she speaks again.”

    It’s someplace I’ve been, fiddling with a stick while someone told me something emotional, just sharing their moment with them.  The words aren’t big, but the way they are strung together weaves a compelling story with rich description and universal themes like love and loss and playing chess with a knight that is the wheelbarrow from a monopoly set. 

    The other novellas are just as good, just as tightly written and fun to read.  Morry is 42 but he might as well be 80, his life ended when his wife died from cancer.  His rut allows for very little improvisation so having a widow move into the apartment below him, one intent on getting to know him and not letting him ignore her, well that’s just a little too much like living life for comfort.  His story is the second one. 

    I had to write to Levi about the third story, because when I got to it, I felt like the wheels had come off.  ‘Here we go’ I thought to myself, ‘some indie author’s lame attempt at being the next Tolkien.’  Man, was I wrong.  Yes, The Bumbler’s Apprentice is full of made up words and magic and sorcery, but it’s just an elaborate prop for a nice little love story, smack dab in the middle of it.  The odd thing is, after I read it I even found myself enjoying the magic parts.  It wasn’t over explained or full of itself, it was just the setting for the tale.

    The fourth novella was the only one where I’ll say anything at all negative, it went on past the ending.  The extra parts were fine and well written and interesting, but the story ends in Chapter 8 when Kevin is forced to leave town to go live with his dad and Carole curls back up into her shell of silence and shyness.  You hate to end it there, but sometimes life is like that, it doesn’t have the satisfying (or unsatisfying) wrap up we get in chapters 8 through 10.

    There is one excerpt I did want to share with you though, because to me it’s what sets apart Levi Montgomery’s writing.  It’s an almost stream of consciousness gush of ideas and thoughts and words that comes rushing out and you really do need to read them all.  Here are Kevin and Carole sitting on the porch, being young people:

    “They sat in her living room and watched TV for two hours… two hours and he never even touched her hand, but now on the moonlit glassed-in back porch, gripped again by that courageous terrified desperate need, he takes her hands and pulls her to him.  Leaning back against the dryer, he pulls her to him, and puts his arms around her… puts his arms around her and leans down to her face… down to her face as she looks up at him… she looks up at him and he doesn’t know how to do this… he leans down to her upturned face… and he doesn’t know how to truly kiss a girl… and he leans down… and her eyes are closed… and then for a very long moment, it doesn’t matter that they don’t know what to do.  They do all right.”

    Yep, they do all right, at least until chapter 8.  I encourage you to get the book to see if you disagree with me.  Maybe the last three chapters really are important.  Maybe I’m just a reviewer and maybe you should go buy this book so you’ll know for sure.  When you do buy it and find out you really enjoy it, drop by and tell me thanks.  I’m that confident that you’ll end up being a Levi Montgomery fan too.

 

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September 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Author Profile – Levi Montgomery

Levi Montgomery

Levi Montgomery

I first became familiar with Levi Montgomery when he requested a review for his excellent book Cursing the Cougar at the LLBookReview site.  I started reading and was quickly hooked.  Soon, I had unwittingly agreed to not only review Cougar but also his smart collection of novellas Other Loves.    Although his author photo bears a slight similarity to Lieutenant Worf

Distant cousin?

Distant cousin?

of Star Trek fame, I boldly decided to go where no reviewer had gone before and asked if I could interview him for my blog.  He cheerfully agreed and below is the result.  Levi has an interesting take on many topics near and dear to writers, so I also invite you to check out his blog

The topic of much of your writing seems to be how love comes to be. Why are you compelled to explore love?
I don’t think I’m compelled to explore love so much as to explore who we really are, and I think who we really are only comes out under stress. For most of us, discovering sexuality, discovering love, discovering this odd idea of spending our life with someone else, all come at us in a sudden stressful rush, somewhere in that blink between adolescence and adulthood. I think that’s why the coming-of-age story has been so enduring, and so endearing, over the centuries.
How much do you ‘write what you know’ versus research? For instance, who is the car buff, you or your character?
Well, I’ve done enough work on enough cars and trucks over the years to make that a pretty easy write, but he’s definitely the car buff. I also haven’t shot a bow since high school. When I was in school, bow-hunting was a vital skill. It’s how we killed the mammoths. But research is easy these days. Just hop on the web, and you can find out anything. Moon phases, tide tables, name popularity in 1949, why you can’t silence a revolver. The best place to slice your femoral artery. Anything.
When did you decide to pursue writing in earnest?
March, 2007. Or when I was twelve, depending on what the question really means. I decided I was going to be a writer when I was twelve, but I let the naysayers and circumstances talk me out of it. I kept writing, but not seriously, until March of 2007, which was more years lost than I care to think about. Since that time, I’ve completed three novels and two books of four novellas each, with three of those books published.
What writers do you enjoy reading?
Margaret Atwood, Dick Francis, Judy Blume, Robert Heinlein. An eclectic group, really. Ann Patchett, Ngaio Marsh. A bunch of others whose names escape me right now. I’ll read anything if I have to. I’ve read Barbara Cartland when I’ve had to. That part of “The Summer of Being” was autobiographical.
I saw your contest asking readers to donate food to a food bank for a chance to win a copy of your book. Do you have any more book promotions coming up?
I am determined to have more charity-based give-aways, but I’m not at all sure how to go about it. My first 5 Day Give-Away was basically a huge failure, and I’ve been told in emails and direct messages on Twitter that it was because I expected people to actually go out and do something. I firmly believe, though, that people are better than that. I’ll do something, but I’m not sure what. I’m open to suggestions. People can email me, or I’m essentially always on Twitter.
Which of your characters do you think most resembles you?
Well, there seem to be two characters that crop up a lot. One of them is the teenage boy who’s unsure of who and where he is or where he’s going, while most of the fathers in my writing seem to be the father I wish I was. So maybe I’m the awkward teenage boy, growing into the father I’ll never be. For what it’s worth, my children, especially the girls, are always saying “Are you kidding me? He’s just like you!” so maybe I’m all right.
Which character was the biggest challenge for you to create and why?
Actually, I haven’t felt any serious challenge in creating any of the characters that have been published to date. There’s a seriously deranged killer in my upcoming novel, Jillian’s Gold, that I really didn’t like writing, but I can’t say too much, because it’s sort of a spoiler.
What’s next for Levi Montgomery?
Well, my latest published work, Stubbs and Bernadette, which is actually the first novel I wrote, will be out by the time anyone reads this. Stubbs and Bernadette explores the differences between who we think we are, who others think we are, and who we really are, as well as the power of being accepted. Jillian’s Gold, which should be out soon, is about a young lady who has lost her mother, her home, her favorite aunt, and every friend she ever had, and whose new boyfriend may be a serial killer with a grudge. There’s also another book of novellas coming, Crossroads and Other Obstacles, one of which, “The Death of Patsy McCoy,” can be downloaded as a free PDF.
What’s the attraction of the novella format?
I like the novella length a lot. It seems to be long enough for serious exploration but not long enough to begin to drag. I have several more in various stages of completion.

You can follow Levi on Twitter as well.  Happy reading!

September 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment