I wanted the first book review I wrote for the site to be something unique, not just a Star Wars or science fiction novel that has been talked about to death. So I thought I would start with this interesting little book by Red Dirt Press, Abraham Anyhow.
“The story involves a man who owns a towing business who is facing the threat of losing his land to an expanding highway. He discovers some documents that reveal political back dealings that entangle his family in a feud with another local family that doesn’t abide by the law.”
Those were the words I used to describe the story in a nutshell in a previous article I had written about it elsewhere. The book itself reminded me in many ways of The Outsiders, or That was Then This is Now, in that it really captured the rough and tumble nature of these characters and their rugged lifestyle. I admittedly don’t read a lot of westerns or western themed books, which this is not exactly, but is close. It had been described as “grit lit” to me, which I think is fitting. The author runs a blog that posts short stories in this genre of fiction, that I am only now becoming aware of.
My first take on the book was how easily I could picture the places the author was describing. As someone who grew up in a small town in Kansas, I have seen my share of the stereotypical “redneck wannabe,” in fact it reminded me specifically of a place I used to visit frequently when I was a kid, this old junk dealer whose name I have long forgotten from my early childhood. In that respect the book did take me back to my early days, something a good book should be able to do.
One thing I noticed as I was reading is even though I never met these characters, I got the impression I could picture people I knew who were just like them. They were written as very believable, down-to-earth folks. The nature of this sort of fiction is just that, regular folks living their lives. The story was engaging, there was a conflict and the relationship between the father and son was something I could identify with, I think many of us have had rocky relationships with our fathers at some point in the past.
The story takes a couple twists but it mostly focuses on the central plot, not deviating too far. The author wrote from experience, clearly having a fondness for the area painting a picture of the sights that anyone who has been to these places would appreciate. Someone from a small town in the mid-west could also identify with the situations in the books as well.
The story doesn’t drag on either. He takes a few detours down memory lane, at least from the perspective of the characters, and the flash backs are not too excessive, they do their job in establishing the setting, the characters, and the mood of the story.
While not my preferred type of fiction, I tend to lean more towards either science fiction, or the classics, this is certainly a story that country folks or anyone curious about country folks, could read and get an insight into that lifestyle. It might not have been my exact cup of tea, to be honest, but it was a solid read and if you are into these types of stories, it’s worth picking up. The book is available on Amazon. The authors name is Adam Van Winkle. He grew up around Lake Texoma, a lake that borders Texas and Oklahoma. The book is primarily set in towns around the area.
I would give the book 4 out of 5 stars, not that it wasn’t well-written, it was, but because it just wasn’t my thing. I was able to get into the story and the mindset of the main characters, but it felt a little too down-to-earth, too real, for my tastes. It was still a solid read if you enjoy the genre, it wasn’t bad by any means. The only area of criticism I have is the dialog was a little too salty for my tastes for a story such as this. A few instances of profanity is fine, even necessary in a fiction that deals with criminals and human frustration, sure, but I felt that at times the main characters choice vocabulary was just a bit much for my preferences.