Friday, October 20, 2017

Book Review: 'Impressions' by Dan Groat

This reviewer first encountered the writing of Dan Groat with his debut A PUNCTUAL PAYMASTER and introduced that review with the following: `If readers are looking for a book to read while the current `Stand your ground' movement is surrounding us, this book is a wise choice. The author, Dan Groat, weaves a story spanning 71 years in a little town in Missouri that shares the roots of racial schism in a way that few others have. The characters on both sides of the 'color line' and the motivations and atmosphere that breed the history in 1939 that will be approached by young kin in 2010 are life like and well drawn and open windows for every sort of reader through which to view the world and its problems from a new vantage. Little more could be asked from a book. Especially now.' So why mention that? Because the force of Groat's pungent way with words is a running line with all his books. He has been around life, viewing it from many vantages - degrees from three institutions of higher learning, a college math teacher, a cross country coach, bartender, laborer in disparate fields from high to low brow - but his own précis about his writing career are best described from his own inimitable words: `I believe in the uniqueness of each person and that when given equality of opportunity, the individual is the best architect of their own destiny. I believe that societal problems are best remedied by small groups, preferably starting with the family; that government should do its best to protect its citizens without getting in the way of their lives; that Americans are not guaranteed happiness, but the right to pursue it and their society is both a benefit and a burden that requires giving as well as receiving; that acceptance of cultural diversity includes acceptance of a diversity of opinions because one opinion will never solve our problems; that change is not automatically good; that displaying a devotion to country is a virtue. I believe deeply in love, loyalty, individualism, self-reliance, liberty, ambition, hard work, competition with no guaranteed trophies, and that action as well as words is a form of expression.' Timely indeed!

Given all that, Groat in his second book AN ENIGMATIC ESCAPE created an exploration of family - of the seeds that produce three brothers who by turns of fate and differences of motivation are set out on their own to become individuals with only memories of the time they were together. In his third book MONARCHS AND MENDICANTS he introduced a series dealing with the plight of the homeless.

Having read all of his books it is without question that this reviewer states Dan Groat is an author of major significance, a writer unafraid to take on the tough topics of the times (and their reflections in our history) and place us well within the confines of the adventures through which he leads us. And in offering his tough stories he has that ability to wax poetic. So now in IMPRESSIONS Dan honors us with a richly detailed series of engrossing short stories and flash fiction each of varying length, some referencing history, some commenting on philosophy, some just simply humorous. For instance, Dan offers a statement about contemporary social media communication is the following tweet from Abraham Lincoln – ‘#AbeSpeak Delayed, so I, the President, am tweeting my remarks in hope that they can be passed along: Four score and seven years ago our fat Civil War buffs and history scholars alike disagree over the exact meaning of his words since the message was cut off at 140 characters.’

Every entry is polished and once again displays the fine talent of Dan Groat. Highly recommended - to all writers (!) as well as of course to readers who love fine stories. Grady Harp, November 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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