Title: The Black Garden
Author: Joe Bright
Website of Author: http://www.joebrightbooks.com
Website of Publisher: http://www.bewrite.net
Genre: General/American Gothic
Publication date: 2009
Length: 226 pages
Email of Author:
Reviewer: Lucille P Robinson
Small towns are friendly and peaceful places, right?
When Mitchell Sanders arrived in Winter Haven, Vermont, to apply for a job with George O’Brien, he didn’t expect to step into a hotbed of controversy and gossip, but that’s what he did. It didn’t take him long to learn that he was working for an old man who’s daughter had committed suicide and the reason for it: rape. It didn’t take him long to fall in love with the granddaughter, the result of that incident. It didn’t take him long to learn that the very aspect that caused small towns to be so peaceful could also bring more pain and suffering than anything else. That aspect is gossip.
Being the kind of person who avoids confrontations at all cost, he’d left his Boston home in search of a quiet small town so he could finish his novel and avoid a confrontation with the people he knew and loved. But in Winter Haven, he finds himself attracting one confrontation after another. However, all is not lost. He learns he can lie his way out of most of them, although poorly, yet no one calls on him to prove his lies so he gets by with them. As a result, he makes friends and influences a lot of people who prove helpful in easing the pain and suffering of the O’Briens brought on by the rape/suicide incident seventeen years ago.
Like Mitchell of The Black Garden, I’ve had my share of confrontations which I, too, wanted very much to avoid. Sometimes one just can’t avoid them and being forced to face one helps to teach the person how to deal with it. Mr. Bright has done a superb job exploring what can happen when a small town population seems to set itself against one family. In the process he has also shown how the actions of one person can and will make a difference. Bright’s writing style is a down-home type aimed at readers who care about family, showing instead of telling spices up the events from beginning to end, and even the romance feature is satisfying in the end. The Black Garden is a good read that shouldn’t be passed up.
I’m one of those schizophrenic artists who couldn’t make up his mind which art to focus on. I went to college on a fine arts scholarship, yet spent a lot of my time playing the guitar, writing songs and performing with a band. I won the KFC songwriting contest while in college, and no, I wasn’t writing jingles about chicken. I also won a battle of the bands.
To support my artistic pursuits, I took time off from college and worked in the oil fields of Wyoming, where I met some interesting characters that I could draw upon in my writing. I also spent a few years with a dance group, touring Canada and Europe.
After receiving my English degree, I went to work as a technical writer for Thiokol, the manufacturer of space shuttle rocket boosters. Yes, they’re the ones responsible for the 1986 Challenger disaster, but that was before I worked for them. I later taught English in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Berkeley, California. During this time, I began focusing seriously on my writing.