Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book Review: 'Shepherd' by Michael Ozarks

Ohio author Michael Ozarks (a nom de plume) started life as a musician, moving to Los Angeles from Florida to salute a new career to write a manuscript, a screenplay and create a music album. After many disappointments and a life-threatening illness he turned to writing full time – and this book is the first of a series he calls The Henry Shepherd Series. Reading this novel is a wakeup call – if his other two installments are as strong as this he has a solid start on a meaningful writing career as an author who understands that fine line between fright and spirituality.

For openers Michael sets a mood in his introduction of his main character Henry Shepherd - ‘Unfortunately, my name is Henry. Some people call me Drew— if I can fool them into it. I always loved the movies. I loved how Coca-Cola washed away the oily coating of popcorn butter that had wormed down the back of my throat. I loved spending too much money at the concession stand for pseudo-food that never outlasted the previews. I loved the previews. I loved the big chairs. I loved pretending I was a handsome, mysterious guy who had no problem watching a movie all by his lonesome. I loved pretending a wonderful, perfect girl would shuffle up and ask to sit next to me. But most of all, I loved the hope that something up there on the screen was about to remind me of a reason to keep going. It was nice to feel like— any day— everything could change for the better. Still, I couldn’t enjoy any vicarious experiences without suffering from anxiety or envy, without wishing I were a part of that world— whether in the land of make-believe or in the land of make-believers. Even so, no fantasy I’d ever encountered had convinced me that anything genuine really existed— especially not true love. But I imagined I could scribble my dreams into existence. Emptiness and hurt had always fueled my creativity. I’d wanted to be a real writer since I was a child. Except I was nothing but a weak storyteller— a liar, chasing after the best tale I could concoct. Yet I still believed in destiny, though my own seemed quite bleak.’

The synopsis tells us where we are headed - ‘While driving home from the movies late one night, Henry accidentally struck and killed a girl named Karen with his pickup truck. Kaley was Karen’s twin sister. In spite of all the reasons they shouldn’t be together, Henry and Kaley can’t help what will happen between them. Shepherd follows the story of an aspiring, young author, shackled by his jaded perception of the world around him. He has grown up without familial bonds and feels no connection to any person or any place, except for the storytellers of his time and the land of make-believe. Driven to find true fulfillment, Shepherd suffers and triumphs through an unbelievable, yet still quite ordinary life.’

Style, grit, and an indefinable allure for strange coincidences make this book a fast reading introduction to the talent of ‘Michael Ozarks’. Grady Harp, March 17

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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