Official Review: The Locked Self and Other Stories

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Camille Turner
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Official Review: The Locked Self and Other Stories

Post by Camille Turner » 08 May 2018, 15:40

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Locked Self and Other Stories" by Silvano Bistazzoni.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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The Locked Self and Other Stories by Silvano Bistazzoni contains one larger story that takes up most of the book and three smaller, independent ones. The main story, “The Locked Self,” follows nine-year-old Jo’s therapy sessions with the narrator. Jo comes from a difficult family situation that includes some of the hardships one normally thinks of when considering a troubled childhood: neglect, abuse, alcoholism, lack of parental guidance and instability. The narrator is tasked with connecting with Jo and helping to bring about positive behavior and self-discovery. Both “The Locked Self” and the other three stories are certainly emotional ones, as you might imagine, so readers should be prepared to deal with extremely difficult situations and some disturbing graphic details.

I enjoyed reading about Jo and the narrator’s relationship as their rapport changes many times while they get to know each other and outside forces impact their visits. The other stories include “The Round Trip Home,” “All Systems Go,” and “Island, A Family.” Respectively, they follow the stories of the effects on others after attending a marriage by the sea, a woman suffering from a difficult marriage and a community of islanders whose lives will be interrupted by a horrific tragedy. The book certainly doesn’t shy away from confronting readers with the realities people face every day and I respected each of the stories for the truth, however harsh it may be, of the characters’ struggle to find themselves and cope with tragedy.

Unfortunately, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars because of the significant amount of grammatical errors present and the overall lack of structure which both make it difficult to focus solely on the stories. Normally, errors aren’t something in which to get caught up, but the mistakes were on just about every page and were of a distracting nature, such as missing words in sentences like “I get frustrated and sometimes angry with because they are like robots and you cannot argue with their robotic attitude” (pg 64) and “The assistant who answered didn’t know about Jo and his” (pg 60), with the latter containing a period after “his.” Other times, the mistakes were more subtle—missing articles, incorrect dialogue punctuation, sentence fragments—but still distracting because of their frequency.

If I were permitted to give ratings with decimals, I would give the book 2.5 stars because I did appreciate the messages it conveys about self-discovery and tragedy. However, I decided on 2 stars, rather than bumping it up to 3, because there seemed to lack some cohesiveness to the book’s organization. While I can see how all the stories would belong in the same collection, as they all deal with difficult issues and do share certain imagery such as the sea, I felt the layout was a bit disorganized. For example, rather than simply dividing the book into stories, it was divided into chapters, with the chapter numbers continuing numerically but under a different title when a new story began. This had me wondering at first if the other stories were somehow supposed to be a part of the main one. I eventually understood that they were separate after reading them, but found the uncertainty at the beginning to interrupt the reading process.

On a positive note, the first story about Jo and his therapist is often interrupted by the narrator’s flashbacks and imaginings—at least I took them for imaginings rather than actual scenarios—of what was happening at Jo’s home. I really like that these scenes were a part of the book because I can see how therapists would certainly reflect on their own childhoods as a result of working with children. At times, I did find the scenes a bit abruptly placed but all in all, I enjoyed having several different scenes and ideas woven together. I would recommend reading the story if the topic interests you—Bistazzoni is certainly an expert when it comes to counseling and psychotherapy—provided you can look past the errors and focus solely on the meaningful stories told within the book.

******
The Locked Self and Other Stories
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Post by SamSim » 06 Jun 2018, 09:16

Books that don't shy away from difficult subjects can be powerful tools, but the lack of polished organization and editing really hurts this book's impact, unfortunately. Thanks for the thorough review!
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Post by kandscreeley » 06 Jun 2018, 10:00

This does sound like a book with much potential. It's too bad about the grammatical errors, but hopefully the book can undergo some more editing. I believe that there's many people that would benefit from reading this one. Thanks.
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Post by Helen_Combe » 06 Jun 2018, 10:13

Thanks for the review. Such a shame that the lack of editing had such a detrimental effect on this book.
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Post by SABRADLEY » 06 Jun 2018, 11:35

Thanks for your review! I agree with your thoughts on the disorganization and lack of cohesion. The stories were thrown together in such a peculiar manner that it felt like it was an effort to get to "book length" as opposed to being a thoughtful collection. Great review :)

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Post by Camille Turner » 06 Jun 2018, 13:26

SamSim wrote: ↑
06 Jun 2018, 09:16
Books that don't shy away from difficult subjects can be powerful tools, but the lack of polished organization and editing really hurts this book's impact, unfortunately. Thanks for the thorough review!
I agree! Thanks for commenting. :)

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Camille Turner
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Post by Camille Turner » 06 Jun 2018, 13:26

kandscreeley wrote: ↑
06 Jun 2018, 10:00
This does sound like a book with much potential. It's too bad about the grammatical errors, but hopefully the book can undergo some more editing. I believe that there's many people that would benefit from reading this one. Thanks.
Yes, hopefully. I agree! Thanks for commenting. :)

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Post by Camille Turner » 06 Jun 2018, 13:28

Helen_Combe wrote: ↑
06 Jun 2018, 10:13
Thanks for the review. Such a shame that the lack of editing had such a detrimental effect on this book.
Yes, it was really too bad because it would have otherwise been a much more enjoyable read. Thank you for commenting!

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Post by Camille Turner » 06 Jun 2018, 13:32

SABRADLEY wrote: ↑
06 Jun 2018, 11:35
Thanks for your review! I agree with your thoughts on the disorganization and lack of cohesion. The stories were thrown together in such a peculiar manner that it felt like it was an effort to get to "book length" as opposed to being a thoughtful collection. Great review :)
Yes! I went and read your review just now and completely agree. It seems we had the same observations. Thank you for commenting! I enjoyed your review as well. :)

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Post by kfwilson6 » 06 Jun 2018, 15:04

Abuse and neglect in the home is a harsh truth I don't care to read about. Especially when the book is only getting 2 stars from multiple reviewers. I think the author needs more focus. Very weird about the chapter numbers. Did no one edit this book? That's the first thing I would have pointed out to the author. Great review.

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Post by Camille Turner » 06 Jun 2018, 15:39

kfwilson6 wrote: ↑
06 Jun 2018, 15:04
Abuse and neglect in the home is a harsh truth I don't care to read about. Especially when the book is only getting 2 stars from multiple reviewers. I think the author needs more focus. Very weird about the chapter numbers. Did no one edit this book? That's the first thing I would have pointed out to the author. Great review.
It was quite emotional, that's for sure. Yes, I agree in that I think it needs some professional editing. Thanks for reading my review and leaving a comment!

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Post by JJNP » 07 Jun 2018, 10:02

This looks like an interesting book, thanks for the review which points out the errors and lack of cohesion. In some ways, with the narrator's imaginings, it sounds like some of Shane Dunphy's work. I might find it interesting despite the problems, because of my own story and because I find stories of other people's struggles inspiring.

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Post by Camille Turner » 07 Jun 2018, 19:08

JJNP wrote: ↑
07 Jun 2018, 10:02
This looks like an interesting book, thanks for the review which points out the errors and lack of cohesion. In some ways, with the narrator's imaginings, it sounds like some of Shane Dunphy's work. I might find it interesting despite the problems, because of my own story and because I find stories of other people's struggles inspiring.
You should try it out then if you think you'd enjoy it despite the issues. I haven't read any of Dunphy's work but I'm going to take a look at it now that you mention it. Thanks for a thoughtful comment! :)

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