Thursday, 17 August 2017

Review of 'Luck Favors the Prepared'

In his first collection of non-fiction short stories, Nathaniel Barber allows a peek inside the life observant. Luck Favors the Prepared is a straightforward read, shifting from remote and hilarious documentary to a lived-in memoir, dreamily recalling the absurd dark comedy of death and divorce, landlordship, family, role playing video games, high school, misguided activism, customer service and sudden, unexpected wardrobe failures.

As a son of the Pacific Northwest, his stories are nestled in the mossy bosom of Washington, Oregon and Northern California. His characters and rich dialogue are plucked from the past and set to life. They are belligerents and buffoons. They are the beautiful and the bewildering, plagued by dark and grotesque motives and juxtaposed with a loving objectivity that suspends judgement for a world where no one is defined by their worst deeds.

Luck Favors the Prepared is an unforgettable tour through the ordinary and unconventional—a full collection of real life and all its baggage, handcrafted by the hardest working nobody in contemporary literature.

My review of 'Luck Favors the Prepared'

Luck Favors the Prepared was an enjoyable read. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I loved the down to earth feel of this non-fiction story. It flowed more like fiction with a realistic edge. The stories were very powerful and each left me wanting to find out more and whether they could have been joined to flow together. Barber has an easy style and flow to his writing and is certainly capable of giving a rounded story with depth and humour. I really felt for the author during the experiences for these stories, which did produce witty accounts but must have been harrowing at the time. A talented author, which can write about highs and lows with passion and that certainly has the scope for more. I look forward to hearing from this author again and will look out for his next novel.

About the author:

 I was born in San Diego but I remember little of my native city. I remember citrus, as large as my own head. And the sunset-orange beaches littered with black, sea-smoothed rocks. There were the family dogs, two eager and bushy Norwegian Elkhounds. I was just a small child then so the butts of these curl-tailed Norwegian Elkhounds—eye-level and unavoidable—lent an early and impressive lesson about the things you love: to throw yourself at them with pragmatic abandon since it is both right and necessary to love all things, but sensible to keep a watchful eye on the gruesome, sobering details. The air of San Diego was cream-heavy with sea salt and eucalyptus and jasmine.

Then, thank God, the Barber family picked up and moved to Lynnwood, Washington just before my fourth birthday. It was one year after the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens when the whole Pacific Northwest, or, at least the rest stops along I-5, seemed still buried in its volcanic ash. It was here I learned about seasons: the blistering-hot and stupid suburban summers and the cruel, humbling soak from mid-September to May. Here I attended schools that varied from fantastically doting schools to schools that seemed to only specialize in the wicked trade of endless loathing, ineptitude and failure. I was lucky to have attended both. There was some little league in there, too. As well as a series of horribly disfiguring bicycle accidents.

I followed a girlfriend further north, to Bellingham, Washington. I won a long, hard-fought lawsuit against a pederast and enrolled in college to pursue a useless degree. I eventually married that girlfriend. It was a marriage I jokingly refer to as a ‘training wheels’ marriage. We graduated college with our useless degrees and promptly divorced so I moved to Portland, Oregon to work myself to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion. Somewhere in there I met the love of my life (sometimes it takes the wrong marriage to illuminate the right one). We live somewhere in North Portland with our daughter who recoils in horror every time I shave off my beard.

Some people will warn you away from non-fiction authors. They’re rumored to write only non-fiction because they have no imagination and they’re foaming with venom for all the perceived wrongs they’ve suffered. I don’t know about all that. I think my stories are beautiful, even if they are humiliating and difficult to tell. I hope my stories are enjoyable. After all, I’ve worked very hard to make them read okay.

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