- About BSP
- On Tap
- Buy Our Books
Fred’s Labor Day Weekend
It was a blistering 103 degrees as author Fred Venturini and his lovely wife Krissy rode in Fred’s hometown Labor Day Parade in Patoka, IL. After the parade, BSP was on hand to handle a brisk business in book sales as old friends stopped by to greet Fred and get copies of The Samaritan signed. Other than the heat–and it is summer, after all–it was a great day.
Anene’s Reading at Kirkwood Library – September 28, 7:00 pm
Join BSP Author Anene Tressler as she reads from her award-winning debut novel Dancing with Gravity. If you haven’t heard Anene read, you’re in for a treat because not only is she a wonderful writer, but her readings are beautiful, nuanced, poetic. Which makes sense because she’s also an award winning poet. Books will be available for purchase at the Kirkwood Library through STL independent bookstore Main Street Books. So, come out and support a local author, your public library, and an independent bookstore!
Here’s a bit about Dancing with Gravity:
After being chosen to minister to a circus harboring South American political refugees, Father Samuel Whiting’s self-imposed isolation is shattered as his deepening friendship with the trapeze artist forces him to reevaluate his call to the priesthood. Lyrical prose with moments of astonishing beauty, Dancing with Gravity reveals the vulnerabilities, the petty motivations, and the universal need for love and purpose hidden in every human heart.
A New/Old Review of The Samaritan
In other news, in a post on Fred’s author Facebook page, Adam-Troy Castro brought to our attention a review he wrote for SCI FI magazine, the magazine of the Syfy Channel. Although Adam-Troy notified me about the review, somehow I missed his e-mail. Now, I’m thrilled to post his original version here:
Here is the complete text.
By Fred Venturini
202-page trade paperback
Blank Slate Press
This is not an author you’ve ever heard of. The same can be said of the publisher, which is not a traditional outlet for works of science fiction but a regional small press dedicated to “discovering, nurturing, publishing and promising new voices from the greater St. Louis area.” The book will almost certainly be overlooked by a wider audience.
And yet — no kidding — this early February 2011 release is already a strong candidate for most powerful science fiction novel of the year. Those few of you moved by these words or by the praise it will likely receive elsewhere to do whatever you have to in order to get your hands on a copy will be rewarded by a strong narrative voice, a richly-conceived central friendship, and a story with genuine emotional depth that evades the comforts to be found in traditional formula.
The fantastic element takes its own sweet time showing up, so that we may first spend approximately a quarter of the novel following the progress of a high school friendship between the socially withdrawn Dale Sampson and his only buddy, hotshot athlete and fanatical girl-hound, Mack Tucker. Narrator Dale is from an early age the kind of guy who’s just no good at life: not making friends, not speaking to girls, and certainly not doing anything with his days and nights but marking time; Mack is the opposite, a kid who relationships with the female gender amount to racking up names on a personal scorecard and then bragging about it afterward. Then Dale develops a crush on a beautiful girl named Regina, who is dating absolutely the wrong kind of guy, the school thug.
This is hardly an unusual situation, in real life or in fiction, and a lesser writer would have handled it schematically, drawing the conflicts in the broadest possible strokes and then moving on to the introduction of the fantasy elements as soon as possible. Not so Venturini. He captures Dale’s voice, and Mack’s, and renders Regina herself more than just a generic nice girl, allowing character to dictate what soon happens between them and how it affects Dale as high school recedes and he enters adulthood, a profoundly damaged man still no damn good at forging a life for himself, who just happens to be possessed of what can only be described as a mutant power.
It’s not a happy book. Bad things happen to good people. Not all the right people prosper. Not all the right infatuations blossom into love. There are tragedies and life-destroying acts of violence. Dale himself lives his life like a man who just wants to get it over with, wasting years of his young adulthood on inertia, self-pity, and daytime re-runs. His super-ability brings him no joy, not even when it brings him national fame. Even breathtaking acts of personal generosity on his part — the source of the title and the name by which he comes to be known — come off as little but an extended effort at suicide by self-sacrifice. The issue ultimately becomes whether he will find a reason to live, or be destroyed by his ultimate and most dramatic use of his odd gift.
I don’t know anything about Fred Venturini, but the man is a writer of rare gifts and understanding of the human condition, and I feel no qualms about predicting that few of 2011’s genre offerings will match his accomplishment here. Take the plunge.