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Book Review: Succession by Herbert Lobsenz

Jun 10, 2008
I have my finger in many different pies, and one of those pies is an adult literacy program. Although I am only peripherally involved. I am always on the lookout for suitable material. Every book I read gets pigeonholed into one of three categories, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. There is no doubt in my mind that Succession belongs in the Advanced group.

The writing style reminded me of a genre that was popular in the late 60's and early 70's, and during that period many authors fell for the lure. John LeCarre for example released The Naive And Sentimental Lover, while critically acclaimed it did not sell well, it was too complex in structure for many readers.

Succession is complex in its structure, the language is simple enough, but the concepts and constructs are involved. It is not so much a flowing story, but rather a series of sometimes disjointed vignettes that the reader must assimilate themselves. That is not meant as a criticism, merely an observation.

Herbert Lobsenz like his books is a complex subject. There are few authors that win a coveted Harper Prize (1960) and then decide to abandon writing in favor of the corporate world only to return over 40 years later.

Let's talk about the book. Succession has at its core Jake Garrison who some years prior had abandoned the business world in favor of becoming a writer. Alas his genre, Civil War 'faction' does not seem to be garnering the acclaim and kudos from the publishers that he thinks he deserves.

The turning point for Jake arrives when his father is taken ill, and is obviously not long for this earth. With the elder Garrison fading away in hospital Jake makes the discovery that his father does not have the money to cover his bills. Jake comes from honorable stock, and the his 'honorable' gene takes him from his writing back into the murky world of business as a way of covering the growing expenses.

His old acquaintance Carnusty is happy to loan the money to Jake, but there are catches. Jake once again becomes embroiled in industry, this time checking out a failing typewriter company. But rather than operating on the up and up, Jake is forced to go undercover in the guise of being the new editor of the company newsletter.

Through very short vignettes author Herbert Lobsenz takes us on a wild ride inside Jakes mind. His insecurity at home, his insecurity with the relationship between his wife and Carnusty, his thoughts about his father. All of these prey on Jake, the doubts reaching ear splitting volume when his wife announces that she is pregnant.

Can he resolve these issues?

Well only you can decide, and you can do that by buying your copy from Amazon. The author also maintains a blog with his recollections from the past at Old Time Writer.

(Originally published at Blogger News Network, and reprinted with permission of the author, Simon Barrett).
About the Author
Simon Barrett is an adult educator in Calgary, Alberta. With the 11 months a year of winter, he reads a lot of books! He is also a contributing editor for Blogger News and maintains a personal blog at Simon B.
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