As the cover states, THE CHANNEL: Stories From L.A. is a collection of ten stories based in the Los Angeles area "from the 1950s to the not-too-distant future." And what a gripping collection it is! Each main character experiences a horrendous experience that changes his or her life forever. How they deal with the problems is the main thrust of each story.
Author Susan Alcott Jardine unfolds her inventive tales in such a deft manner that I felt as though I were inside the scenes, interacting with the characters, reaching out to help them. In other words, her characters spring to life, making me care what happens to them.
To me, making a reader feel emotion is the mark of a born writer, and Jardine is a master at it. I became so involved that at times I wanted to slap some sense into a few of the characters...but they are Jardine's stories, so must unfold in her way. And what a beautiful--at times poetic--way it is!
As I've said before, I love unique similes and picturesque words. This book abounds with wonderful, original passages and vibrant description. For example, in "Don't Go Into the Killing Place," Jardine describes her aunt's helper as she irons: "...Her hands moved like a magician's, turning the crinoline across the board while rhythmically slapping the starch brush from the boiling pot across the delicate skirt, turning and slapping, turning and slapping in a drum-like cadence, so as not to burn the fabric. The crinoline sizzled with each touch of the iron and the smell of hot starch wafted into my nostrils."
Now doesn't that passage go a long way in bringing that scene to life?
The ten stories in this book are: "Don't Go Into the Killing Place," "The Metamorphosis of Nathaniel Kronstadt," "Hello, You've Reached Amy Byington," "The Gift," "The Solution," "Do You Know Marcus Hanley?" "Lennox House," "Run for the Money," "Just a Game," and "The Channel." They're all so good, it was hard to choose a favorite, but I finally chose, "Do You Know Marcus Hanley?" as my personal favorite. I think it's because I related to Marcus's family and career situations...
This author introduces you to good people and bad people--inside and outside the entertainment industry--but each has a different problem to solve. She holds her readers captive until each story ends, whether happily or tragically...
The following questions are answered with style and perfect pacing in Jardine's stories about young men going off to war, about a girl losing her job, about a record producer's greed in reaching the top while at the same time struggling to help his brother, about female friendship and many more slices of real life: What is The Killing Place? What does Nathaniel morph into? Why doesn't Amy answer her phone? Why does Elizabeth's late friend Sarah give her a special gift? Why is Christina crawling along an asphalt road to reach Justine? Why do young boys idolize Marcus Hanley?
I could give you more teaser questions from the last four stories in this gripping, well-written book, but that would be overkill, so you'll have to read for yourself...and I guarantee it will be time well spent.
In closing, since I'm a huge fan of the Beach Boys, I'd like to share what Beach Boy Al Jardine said about this author: "If the Beach Boys were still writing songs the way Susan Alcott Jardine writes stories, we would have a top-ten hit every time--and I'm not just whistling "California Girls." Read "Don't Go Into the Killing Place" and you will experience her extraordinary depth as a storyteller."
Highly recommended... (My only complaint is that Susan Alcott Jardine failed to give scene breaks--which made it hard to follow in places--but that's minor compared to the quality of the writing, so I happily give five big, gold stars!)
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, October 19, 2010 Author of "Dream Reachers" (with Chase Von) and other books
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Betty Dravis (bettydravis)
BETTY DRAVIS was born in Hamilton, Ohio, one of seven children of John and Felda Barger. Her natural writing ability was nurtured by a “great Ohio school system, caring teachers, and a loving family.” … more
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Ten Tales for Troubled Times...Are we in control of our lives, or merely at the mercy of fate?
In The Channel collection, Los Angeles becomes the tapestry against which ten stories unravel. They take place from the early 1950s to the not-too-distant future. Each of the protagonists experiences life altering dilemmas. Some are unprepared for their reversals. Others are not. How well they cope is for you to determine.
“Susan Alcott Jardine writes with intelligence and insight. She is a born storyteller whose narrative draws us to the dimly lit corners of imagination.”
-Gary Sturm, author of The Secrets of Time and Dreamers and Other Stories
“Jardine is a master of the unexpected. Her collection of stories (The Channel: Stories From L.A.) skillfully captures the unique social and psychological landscapes that define Hollywood. There is also just a hint of the mystical accompanying her profound emotional insight. Don’t miss this one! -Iris Mann, freelance journalist
“Riveting! A must read page turner. She truly awakens our curiosity, what greater gift can we ever receive? I feel blessed and honored to endorse this project.”
-Margaret Mary Fitzgerald, teacher/channel/author of The Lost Gateways and Nine Portals to Inner Ascencion; A Workbook
“If the Beach Boys were still writing songs the way Susan Alcott Jardine writes stories, we would have a top-ten hit every time – and I’m not just whistling California Girls....