Some women read romance as their secret pleasure, not me. That stuff just makes me completely uncomfortable. My secret reading pleasure is dystopian fiction. If you've read my books, you know I like delving into the breakdown of the fabric of a person's life and walking with my characters as they cope and come to terms, and ultimately survive, or not. I am always fascinated by the resilience of people, and dystopian fiction is that, on a larger scale. I will clarify, that I don't do zombies, vampires, werewolves, or aliens. I don't enjoy that, the eating of brains or sucking of blood or transformation from man to beast. What I do enjoy in dystopian fiction is finding of normalcy in abnormal situations.
There are moments when I have legitimate fear that our country is at a precipice. We have become so polarized as a people that we don't consider ourselves a "people" anymore, we are us and them with all our various tribal affiliations. Yesterday morning there was an assassination attempt on several of our senators while they were practicing for a charity softball game. How does that happen in our country? When we make people "them" they become less real, and therefore less human, somehow. I am concerned about the future of our country, and I don't know that we'll be able to heal ourselves without rending entirely apart and stitching back together the scars. This is where my mind was yesterday when I felt the need to read and I needed something that followed my bent. I came across this book, One Man's Opus by Boyd Craven, III and I liked the sample provided by Audible, so I bought the book and listened. The narrator is Kevin Pierce and he does a very good job, he comes across as intelligent, thoughtful and mature.
This book walked me off the ledge, so to speak. Craven is a master story teller, with an easy style that feels almost conversational. His story is couched in normalcy. It is more of a survival journey than dystopian fiction, although the narrator speaks to the fears I feel for our society, fears of civil unrest, fears of the justification of brutality, he even touches on the murders of law enforcement officers over the last several years. It's not a gritty story, it's really an introverts love story, and even better than that, it's a love story to a dog. Opus. I have had and loved, and lost, many great dogs, and Craven's depiction of Opus brought every single one of them out of the corners of my heart to walk again in my life. It was a surprise to me. It was not what I expected, when I chose a dystopian novel, that I would weep as Craven gave his dedication because I remember very clearly the moments my dogs, Brick, Bonnie, Oscar last laid their heads on my lap or rested on my chest before heading to the last great sleep.
This book takes a moment in time, when chaos erupts, and shows a quiet love story for a dog. It doesn't take the disruption of society to the brink, but rather shows the reality that for some people society is already broken and they live outside of it. It was a good read, and I'm sure I'll be reaching for his next book, the next time I wonder, "How can this happen in America?"
Check out Craven's website, http://www.boydcraven.com. He an author well worth keeping an eye on.