BookLife Prize in Fiction
- by John Podlaski
Podlaski's Vietnam War novel follows the adventures of soldiers John Kowalski and Louis Gladwell. While the book offers up great depictions of the Vietnam War and fully realized characters, it does little to set itself apart from similar titles and fails to provide much insight into political events or the meaning behind the war. Recommended for those very interested in the Vietnam War.
- by Mike C. Erickson
Framed as aspiring congressman Dick Youngblood’s autobiography, this satirical novel offers a broadly comic overview of U.S. political history of the last four decades. At times, the over-the-top farce casts in high relief the borderline absurdity of political ambition. The protagonist is affable enough, and his narrative voice -- suitable for a political aspirant -- is charismatic and funny, even if the text is not always convincing as a political memoir. Some of the narrative choices intended for humor ultimately backfire, which only serves to confuse the reader.
- by Edward Cozza
Cozza's tsunami of dialogue engulfs the hackneyed plot of Townes Mantle, a business consultant/musician/writer stuck in a rut and forming a romantic relationship. Mantle's mostly self-focused reflections pale compared to the offbeat zaniness of best friend and fellow musician Zeeder, but the torrent of talk sometimes becomes contrived snappiness. Stereotypical father confessor-type bartenders and casual friends offer little beyond platitudinal insights. An attempt to infuse tension via villainous Clement lags, while Mantle's linkup with actress Ashley and ultimate success are unconvincing.