Review of The Other Joseph – Win A Signed Copy!
The characters in Skip Horack’s third book, The Other Joseph, would be forgiven if they thought the universe had them in its crosshairs. Eventually it seems all their fates are in the hands of capricious and vengeful gods. Even the legal system is mercurial and ruinous in its random efforts to deliver justice.
Brothers Tommy and Roy are raised on an idyllic farm in a tiny town in Louisiana. Their parents are high school teachers and “almost-hippie types” who love their sons and their way of life. Against his parents desires, their oldest son Tommy joins the Navy SEALs and disappears during the first Gulf War. After this tragedy, the Joseph family spirals into a miasma the likes of which they can never quite recover. Young Roy makes a decision that changes the course of his life forever, and like dominoes, his parents also fall into their own tragic circumstances.
Haunted by the disappearance of his brother Tommy, and tethered to a felony conviction until he turns 30, Roy lives an insular life away from prying eyes. He works on oil rigs off the coast of Louisiana and shares his Airstream with his dog, Sam. Moving quietly among the other disenfranchised, he makes few friends, and suffers alone in a dreamless fog of existence. As Roy nears his 30th birthday though, he begins to awaken. The felony conviction that has branded him for a decade will soon be a part of the past, and a large sum of money that’s been compounding under his accountant’s watchful eyes will allow him to pursue a new life. He hopes.
After receiving a phone call from a teenage girl in California who claims to be his lost brother’s daughter, Roy sets out on a journey across America to meet her. The thought of once again having someone to call family is like a siren song to his lonely heart. Along the way, he stops in Nevada to visit a retired Navy SEAL who he thinks can tell him what really happened to his brother. Roy reaches California with the hope that what he finds there will be his redemption, but as can be expected, there are complications, to say the least.
Horack is from Louisiana, and is a lawyer turned writer who is more reminiscent of Ron Rash than John Grisham. His sense of the American landscape, and his evocation of the ordinary people who struggle to perform extraordinary tasks in order to redeem themselves, is lyrical and sweet. There is a particular theme that winds its way through the novel that is both timely and fearless. This is a writer with lovely southern sensibilities who has the chops to tell a whopping good story.
Last week Horack read at Powell’s. His buddy Adam Johnson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Orphan Master’s Son, joined him in conversation about The Other Joseph. It was a great event, and I really like that format. The audience learned a lot about Horack’s southern roots, why he left the life of a lawyer behind, and how he did the research for this book. When asked what advice he would give a young aspiring writer, he responded, “Read wide, and read like a writer.”
I love Johnson’s blurb for the book. He says, “A brilliant, gripping novel written with uncommon skill, The Other Joseph is a poignant and unflinching account of one man’s quest to rise above his mistakes, misfortunes, and circumstances—a novel that is as concerned with the search for answers as it is with matters of the heart and soul. The scope of Horack’s imagination, knowledge, and empathy is striking, and there are innumerable things to be both learned and felt within the pages of this remarkable book. My highest recommendation.”
If you’d like a chance to win a signed copy of The Other Joseph, email your name and mailing address to email@example.com. Put The Other Joseph Giveaway in the e-mail subject line. Unfortunately, you must reside in the U.S.
I’ll accept entries until midnight on April 3, 2015—at which time I’ll draw the winning name. Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending giveaway winners copies of the book.
And the winner is: Valerie in Leaburg, Oregon. Congrats!