A Place Without a Postcard

reviewed by Ronald L. Donaghe

Editor's Note; When I began the newsletter, it was always my intention to feature small and independent press titles, as well as independent and self-published writers. I do so in this review of James Brush's book, so while it might seem odd that this is not a gay/lesbian book, it still fits my criteria.

Paul Reynolds is in big trouble, although it takes him a while to realize it, once he wakes up one day. An inventory of his body, alone, reveals that he's it great pain. But his mental state is also a shock, since he can't remember who he is. If that were not enough, after coming fully awake, he also realizes that he's blind.

That's all I intend to reveal about the plot of this most excellent first novel by James Brush. The story unfolds in layers of realization, memories, and present experiences, sometimes juxtaposed one upon the other as the author deftly leads his readers on a journey of discovery in harsh-desert West Texas. His descriptions of this landscape alone are well worth the read, as when Paul is out in the desert, wandering around, blind. His perception is therefore from his sense of touch:

"He knew the sun had reached its zenith because it was all around him, had him trapped in a tomb of heat from which there was no way out, only through."

And, being blind, when Paul is at a gas station sitting in a pickup, he depends upon his sense of hearing to provide a mental picture of his surroundings. Here, Brush reveals an aspect of blindness that sighted people might not imagine—how things might "disappear" when they come to a stop:

"One vehicle, Paul guessed a pickup truck because the engine was too loud to be a car and it had a smaller sound and lacked the hiss of air brakes that gave away semis, pulled in and drifted very close to him before the engine died; the tires rolled a few more feet before the lack of sound caused it to disappear from his perception as if it had just turned on some kind of science fiction cloaking device."

In fact, this book is filled with sense-based ways of looking at ordinary things and, in so doing, Brush has created a unique story, full of mystery, suspense, and outright terror. He is quite good, however, in first creating a thread in the plot and then resolving it soon or later. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy mystery stories, as well as a good old-fashioned story of the human spirit triumphing over adversity.

James Brush is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, where he earned an MA in screenwriting. He teaches high school English and lives in central Texas with his wife, cat, and two dogs. This is his first novel. Visit his website Coyote Mercury for more of his writing.

A Place Without a Postcard
by James Brush
ISBN 0-595-26312-7
iUniverse, Writer's Club Press, 2003

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