The End is a whole new beginning for me and John Crawley
John Crawley sent me a copy of his latest thriller, The End for me to take a look at prior to publishing. Needless to say I was curious when I read the note that accompanied the novel. It said Lesbians versus Catholic Church in right to die battle. That is the story of my family. I picked the rough draft up and began reading and before I was finished with the book, I had used an entire box of tissues. Sad, mad, happy and delighted, as well as totally surprised; The End strikes at every emotion I have.
If you have read some of his other books, which have a very masculine bent of roving reporter seeking excitement and finding near-death experiences, this is not that book. This work is deep in character study and even deeper in political and personal intrigue. It is about the right to die with dignity. It is about the right to make life ending decisions, not encumbered by the church or other institutions. It is about family. Dysfunctional as they might be, they are still bedrock. The family must endure.
The End is not one sided either. It takes a look at lifestyle, life choices and careers. It asks the tough questions and waits for you to formulate your own answers. This book does not spoon feed you a solution; instead, it grapples with the issues surrounding the Death with Dignity movement. This is no sermon. It is a mirror of our society today.
I have come to gain new respect for John's ability to tell a story and to capture a moment in words. His prose is sure and steady and the story electrifies. I am a fan for life. And I am a fan until death.
Judith Wadsworth Brooks
The Perfect Food. What you eat may just kill you.
Had I known what I know now, I would have probably been a vegetarian my whole life. Even that wouldn't have saved me from the demise that awaits a country in John Crawley's latest novel, The Perfect Food.
The Perfect Food delivers insights into our political system and our agri-business at every turn. Watch what you eat. Watch what you see on the news. Watch who you vote for. It is all interconnected. It is great food for thought.
This book is a masterfully told tale by Scott Keen, one of John's reoccurring characters. In this case, Keen is telling the entire story while sitting in the courtroom waiting for the jury to come back with a verdict in one of America's largest and darkest cases. In this case, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died at the hands of two of the wealthiest men in the country. There have been legal thrillers in the past that offer more courtroom drama, but the sheer acts of audacity on display by the villains in this book are enough to scare you. Why? Because it could really happen. In fact, some scientist say with the GMO's in our food supply, it may be happening already. And just like in Crawley's novel, the antagonists already have cover from Congress.
The Perfect Food is about the dark underbelly of American political life. The seats of power and the seats of wealth coming together to conspire against the very public that sent them to Washington in the first place. It is about greed and shameless lack of morals at the very top of our political food chain. It is also about a very nosey reporter who digs and digs at the story until he starts to find the truth. And as he publishes his findings, slowly the wheels of injustice halt, an administration topples and all hell breaks loose on Wall Street.
The Perfect Food will remind you, you are what you eat. It will also drive home the truth: You are how you vote. And you will be until you have the fortitude to stand up and say, “Enough already. Enough.”
Janice de Long
Letters From Paris. Letters to my soul.
Almost missed this one. Saw an ad for it in an on-line magazine, bought a copy and discovered a marvelous novel about a woman I wish I had met, and even better — as a writer — wish I had created. Clare de Fontroy is a fighter. She is the daughter of a slave who grows up to be one of the leading poets and journalists of her day, as well as one of the most principled defenders of human rights for all times. She chronicles the years of the Lost Generation in Paris, as well as offering a vision of World War II told from the point of view of the underground and not from a soldier's perspective. She speaks of the great struggles that followed, not the least were civil rights for her race and equal rights for her gender. Clare was always in the middle of the fight.
John Crawley tells her tale with unique prose taken from her fiction letters to John Dos Passos, Earnest Hemmingway and Dorothy Parker, to name but a few. He also unleashes her heart with poignant poetry. Yet, as I read this novel, I felt as though I knew Clare. I could imagine opening an International Herald Tribune and reading her columns, scathing as they were at a world gone mad. I could see myself in the clubs of Montmartre as her jazz ensemble played deep into the alcohol-soaked nights, and in their car crossing France at breakneck speeds guided only by the light of the moon — fleeing the Nazi menace as it closed in around them. I felt as if I were on the very truck bed standing with her at Auburn University when, with bullhorn pursed to trembling lips, she proclaimed to a nation that the indignity it was serving to Blacks was not right. It was unjust. I was there for the backlash, as well: for the threats she received and the indignation she must have felt. I was there when she stood up to it all.I felt as if she were real. Perhaps in some way she is. Perhaps she is that ideal that lives in us — that forces us to strive for fair play and honesty: for justice and honor.
Clare de Fontroy's poetry soars. Her prose stings. And her speeches arouse my spirits, while taking my breath away. Her life challenges mine. Do something. Get up and do something. Perhaps now, with the recent shootings around our land and with neighborhoods going up in smoke, as they did in '68 and '69, perhaps now is the time to listen to her words. Do something. Don't just sit there, do something.Letters From Paris is a fine novel. I will endeavor to find others from this new (to me) author, John Crawley.
Fishing Lessons. Learning the hard lessons of life.
I have known John Crawley for a few years now, and have read almost every book he has ever written. This new one, Fishing Lessons, is his craft at its best. It is a new departure for Crawley.
No spies. No guns. No journalist looking for a criminal intent or a leak from a governmental witness— simply a very personal story about a writer, Marcos Ryan, who loses his way in the world of literary business and also loses his way with the love of his life. He is defeated and wanting to simply escape the turmoil that has surrounded him. So he goes fishing. Miles and lifetimes away from anything and anyone he knows, he runs into Chief Robin Raintree, a fishing guide who shows Marcos more than where to place his lure. He shows him how life works. It is the Nootka chief who turns Marcos's life around and places him back on the Great Way. Where that leads Marcos Ryan is back into civilization and back to face the very demons from which he had tried to run. The lesson here is we can never run away. We will, at some time or another, have to face the problems that sent us off course in the first place. How we deal with that is the difference between defeat and victory.
Crawley captures the drama of the writer's life in simple language, but with heart-felt emotions. His scenes are as real as if you or I had been standing there observing the actions ourselves. Take the evening Macros appears on NBC's Tonight Show. It is so real I could actually hear the audience laugh and the Tonight Show band play that famous theme. I can feel the studio lights shining hot down on us. Crawley placed me in that studio in Burbank, California, just as he placed me in the confines of the literary agent's New York office or in the bedroom of his lost lover— he put me there and on the banks of the river in British Columbia, to teach me a lesson. Never give up. Never.
It is a lesson worth being reminded of over and over; and a book worth reading over and over, as well.
Los Angeles, California
The Myth Makers is the real deal.
John Crawley has found a way to make an obscure piece of engineering history not only sexy, but page-flipping fascinating.
This is a work of fiction. Maybe. Or is it? The line between legend and reality is crossed so seamlessly and cleverly that the reader is delightfully never quite sure. And in the end…well, there lurks a real brain twister, to say the least.
Conspiracy junkies will lap this one up. Thriller aficionados will celebrate its non-stop action. Mystery lovers will find a rich complexity of story lines to untangle.As readers follow the obsessed journalist on his quest for the truth, from the remote hills of Kentucky to the badlands of Idaho, they will find themselves challenged at every crossroads to uncover, along with him, the heart of "the story."
Facts are weaved so subtly with fiction, science laced so deliciously with sex and adventure, that this writing is difficult to categorize. Except to say it is flawlessly accomplished.John Crawley has written a real ball-bearing buster of a book.
Stuff. The stuff of life is precious.
In Stuff, John Crawley places a man in the middle of a fire where he has to make split-second decisions about the things that matter to him. Those of you who are familiar with Texas realize that a real-life situation analogous to the one Crawley describes in his book occurred in the town of Bastrop, not far from Austin, in the summer of 2011.
About a month ago, I drove from Austin to Houston and happened through Bastrop, where I saw black bands of burnt trees, grim reminders of a wildfire that swept whole sections of the town into hell.
In June 2011, my wife and I spent a week in Santa Fe while our youngest daughter attended a conference at St. Johns College. That week coincided with the Los Alamos fire, the most destructive wild fire in New Mexico history. We could see the plumes of smoke to the northwest and spoke with many Los Alamos evacuees at the hotel. In the mornings, we would find our car covered in ashes and smell the ever-present smoke. What does a person salvage when he has one hour before his home disappears? The pictures on the mantel? The collector hot-rod in the garage? The neighbor next door? The neighbor's wife? Does he succumb to his lower nature and raid the abandoned houses? Does he tap into his higher personhood and lay his life on the line for people he hardly knows?Does the fire deal a final death stroke to a life on the ropes, or does it breathe life into a weary soul?
Crawley is a master of misdirection. I have learned now after reading some of his work that it ain't over until it's over. And a Crawley story is never over until the last sentence of the last paragraph.Justice is one of those things that looks different to each set of eyes. It is something we are willing to stake our lives on, or at least something on which we are willing to stake our neighbors' lives.In Stuff, the fire is not as important as its aftermath. For it is only then that we see what people are capable of doing to one another, how they choose to reconstitute the stuff of their lives.
Sometimes it is the stuff you throw away that tells the tale.
The Man on the Grassy Knoll. Maybe THEY were involved.
I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was in the sixth grade, Mrs. Rimmy's class at Westfield Elementary. It was a warm California morning and the day had barely gotten started when Mr. Rawlings, our principal, came in and solemnly told the class that the President of the United States had been shot in Dallas, Texas. I was too young to understand the full meaning of that announcement, but we were sent home and I found my mother crying at the kitchen table. I had never seen her sob like that before.
They said Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy. They said he acted alone. They said the bullet that killed Kennedy went through the President, through a seat in the car and into then out of Governor Connelly of Texas and then returned to fall on the floor of the car without so much as a scratch on it. They said. Who are they? I think, and have always thought, they lied to us. I have never trusted the Warren Commission Report. Never. And now comes a novel to address the thoughts that have for so long been in my mind.
John Crawley's The Man on the Grass Knoll is an interview with Raul Salazar, the fictional second shooter at Dealy Plaza. He was the man on the grassy knoll. He was the man shooting and hitting Kennedy with a fatal rifle shot. His story is fiction, but it makes one pause and ask, what if they have been leading us astray all this time. Who might the other assassin be and what did he do?
In Crawley's creative story telling, the reader is taken to a jail cell in a tropical island to hear the confession of the man himself. Written in transcript form, there were times I had to keep reminding myself, this is only fiction. Only a novel. It is not real history. But it could have been. Very easily. And Crawley's marvelous walk along the path of fact with fictitious characters makes this novel a mind-twisting attack on the beliefs that what happened in Dallas that day was purely the act of a mad man.
Maybe "they" were involved.
Los Angeles, California
Letters From Paris. Postmark this one for your next read.
I know she is not real. Clare de Fontroy is fiction. Her life is made up in the mind of an exceptional artist. But my God! She seemed as if her labored breathing fell in time with my own as I sat and read every word of her letters. She was right next to me.
John Crawley has done it again. He has strung together a narrative of history, a story of romance, a tale of a battle between right and wrong and placed it all on the shoulders of a frail black woman who was the daughter of a slave and the product of an America who saw her only as a wrinkled old negro — not the scholar or the artist she truly was. Her fight for civil rights belongs to us all.
Every American who breathes this rarified air above our great land, should pick up her cause and march forward as she did. Crawley's story unfolds on the pages of this moving novel at a rapid pace, but there is a melancholy cloud hanging overhead, slowing the reader down — making us willing voyeurs into a remarkable life. A sadness of spirit even in the small victories that Clare gets to witness during her long and productive life are cause for celebration and jubilation. But it is the sadness of personal loss that flavors her own art — that colors her words.
There are too many to name here, but if one were to place the wins and the losses on a scale of justice, I am afraid we would see why Clare's tears ran so freely and why her words were so incredibly sharp.
A salute to my good friend John Crawley for tackling this story, especially at this time in our country's history. Let us look backward for our heroes and their spirits, so we can face the future prepared to fight on.
San Francisco, California
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Copyright © 2015 John Crawley
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