Review of So-so

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SweetSourSalty AndSpicy
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Review of So-so

Post by SweetSourSalty AndSpicy »

[Following is an official review of "So-so" by Nicholas A. Ventura.]
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4 out of 5 stars
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So-so is a compilation of literary works by Nicholas A. Ventura that covers almost twelve years. The book is less than two hundred fifty pages long and consists of twenty prose pieces, fifty-nine poems, and twenty-two short stories exploring mental health, love, relationships, and social issues. Ventura deconstructs common motifs to reveal fresh meanings, exploring various types of literature and metaphors. The variety and new approaches to the subjects are the most appealing aspects of the book. Ventura's unique perspective adds depth and complexity to each narrative.

The book has six parts. The prologue provides context about the book, its purpose, and its limitations. The author shares his struggles with mental health and emphasizes that the collection is not a guide to writing styles or a get-to-know-the-writer book. The notes provide background information on some selections, while the prose, poetry, and short stories offer an understanding of the author's perspective and thought process.

The book opens with "The Librarian," written in Spanish without an English translation. However, the rest of the selections are in English, and a brief description of this piece is in the notes section.

The book explores mental health, love, and relationships as its central themes, which inspired the author's creative process. One of the apparent styles is the use of nature to represent emotions and states of mind. For example, the sun depicts different contexts across the genres. The rising sun in "Cave People" symbolizes hope; its constant routine in the poem "Ode to Summer" highlights anticipation. The warm sun in "Escapism" provides a backdrop for happiness.

My favorite works from the genres delve into mental health, except for the short story, which focuses on education. "On Depression" is a prose piece that explores the various aspects of mental health, focusing on depression. "Give Up, Says the Cold World" is a poem that also discusses mental health, depicting the internal struggles of those suffering from mental illnesses. "Early Phil" is a short story about values and respect in a high-tech classroom environment. "Triple Threat" is a short story with a mental health theme, but I did not connect with the plot and found it abstract to my liking. Overall, the pieces focusing on mental health offer valuable insights into the complexity of the condition and underscore the importance of understanding and addressing it.

The selections are not arranged according to the year they were composed, making it difficult to follow the collection's chronological progression. I prefer a presentation that shows the author's evolving style and personal and social challenges in a linear chronology. For instance, the short story "The Convenience Store" was written in 2013. According to the notes, the context is a series of shootings and police protests. It reflects the author's personal and social concerns as he explores different writing styles. I would like to see more of the evolution of the pieces and techniques over time and in response to different social contexts.

The author emphasizes intentionality in the book, but two poems, "By Any Other Name" from 2021 and "All for You" from 2018, contain phrase repetition. It is unclear whether it is intentional or a typographical error.

The epilogue, featuring images with location or date subtitles, could benefit from additional descriptions to clarify their relevance and citations. It is unclear if this lack of detail is deliberate or an oversight.

Though these are areas for improvement, they are not negative features.

Editing discrepancies, such as formatting inconsistencies, can confuse readers. For instance, the contents page shows a switch between the order of poetry and prose, while "Eternity" appears as poetry in the notes section but is included as prose in the body. The book will benefit from another round of editing and proofreading.

The poetry is accessible in its free verse format, but some stories may be too abstract for some readers. The prose is easy to understand, and the notes provide context. The vocabulary is not daily conversation words, so a dictionary is helpful. There are swear words, while suggestive sexual references are rare. The book caters to mature and intellectually curious readers interested in philosophical and existential discussions, exploring complex ideas in deconstructive and abstract writing styles.

The collection is notable for showcasing diverse themes across various genres, but editing and formatting issues get in the way. Nonetheless, it receives four out of five.

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Clauson Justin
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Post by Clauson Justin »

I am not a lover of poems. However, the book contains stories too. It depicts a lot of themes which I believe will be fascinating to explore through the author's stories. Thank you for the review.
Anil Baade
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Post by Anil Baade »

Thank you for your valuable insights about this book. You've explained about the book very well. I'll definitely add this to my reading list
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Alex Lynn
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Post by Alex Lynn »

This review provides a comprehensive overview of "So-so," a compilation of literary works by Nicholas A. Ventura. You highlights several aspects of the book, offering both positive feedback and constructive criticism. Positive aspects mentioned in the review include the variety of literary forms covered in the compilation, including prose pieces, poems, and short stories. The unique perspectives and approaches to common motifs are commended, adding depth and complexity to each narrative. The book's exploration of mental health, love, relationships, and social issues is acknowledged as its central theme, and Ventura's distinctive viewpoint is noted for enhancing the overall reading experience.
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