2 out of 4 stars
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Random Thoughts by Douglas Marshall is, indeed, a collection of the author’s random thoughts expressed through poetry, prose, and short quotations. The author includes poems to family members, famous musicians, and politicians. He focuses on the uncertainty of living in America in the current political climate, and he comments on the reality of life in America as a black man. He writes to other Americans, black men and women, and to the world at large, encouraging his readers to remember Jesus’s teachings and act with unconditional love towards others.
I appreciated that the author wasn’t confined to one style in the book. He includes poems with strict rhyme schemes, poems that don’t rhyme, and sections of prose with short quotations interspersed throughout. This kept the book from becoming monotonous and gave it a varied rhythm that I wasn’t expecting.
Although the author expresses most of his thoughts in poetry, I didn’t feel that he was doing so in a purposeful manner. The poetic form allows for greater freedom in rhythm, rhyme, and punctuation, but the author generally didn’t use punctuation, and many of the rhymes felt simplistic or forced. For example, in the poem “Expression”, he writes “Hoping this feeling will last forever, I will do anything for you, don’t leave never.” Clearly “forever” and “never” are intended to rhyme, and this fits the rhyme scheme of the poem as a whole, but the mismatch of syllables in the two lines and the poor rhyme between these two words just makes it feel like the author wanted to end the poem and move on.
Also contributing to the sense of carelessness in the book were the many errors I found. I didn’t mark off for issues with punctuation since poetry often breaks punctuation rules purposefully, but I found many issues with verb conjugations and word substitutions (ex. site instead of sight). These mistakes were frequent enough to be distracting, and they clearly show that the book wasn’t professionally edited and may not even have been proofread by the author.
Overall, I would give this book 2 out of 4 stars. The author has strong viewpoints, and I like that he expresses them in different ways and with a clear voice; however, the many mistakes and overall sense of carelessness in the book detracted from my reading experience and forced me to take away two stars. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy poetry about modern issues, but I wouldn’t recommend it to children because it includes a fair amount of foul language and commentary on sex.
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