When the words ‘master storyteller’ get used, you tend to think about some of the greats in the genre. People like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Robert McCammon, these are the sorts of writers I usually associate with these words. James Newman is another name I’d like to add to this list. A master storyteller, in my eyes, is able to pull at a number of emotions, making you feel happy, sad, angry, fearful, hopeful and a whole lot more. When a writer is able to do this in such a short book I truly believe that they are up there, rubbing shoulders with some of the very best in the business.
‘Odd Man Out’ sees James Newman tell a coming of age tale that drags you through many of the above mentioned emotions. It is a story of a group of young boys, away at a focus camp where tragedy soon strikes after young Wesley Westmore is found out to be gay. The repercussions of this discovery are sickening and brutal. Newman’s tale is a story that rips you apart and then pours salt into the wounds. It is a story of intolerance, hate, prejudice and the fear of difference.
There is so much to talk about in this story that I don’t even know where to start. First of all I felt as if I was watching this story quickly unravel from the forest that surrounds Black Mountain Camp. Great stories do this to a reader, they pull you in quickly, never let go and take you on an emotional journey. We watch as the relationships between Wesley and the rest of the group head south and a mob mentality begins to bubble and blister among the boys as the story progresses. If you have any sort of humanity within you then I guarantee you will cringe and squirm in your seat as you read this book, particularly during the second half of the story. The tension among the group builds and builds until finally something has to give. The boys are suddenly left alone at the camp and this is where things begin to spiral out of control. Fueled by alcohol, rage and hate manifest inside of the young boys resulting in Newman’s story exploding with violence and brutality. The ending is somewhat inevitable but certainly doesn’t feel watered down despite its rather obvious course. This is certainly a heavy read, make no mistake, Newman pulls out all of the stops in building a story that will linger long in the memory, and to do so in a novella is a truly amazing feat of storytelling.
I love it when writers bring to the fore subjects that are too often neglected in fiction. It is obviously something that James feels very strongly about and he covers himself in glory with this tight, tension-filled tale. A riveting read.
Pick up a copy from here.
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Odd Man Out, Synopsis
- Print Length: 150 pages
- Publisher: Bloodshot Books
WELCOME TO THE BLACK MOUNTAIN CAMP FOR BOYS!
Summer 1989. It is a time for splashing in the lake and exploring the wilderness, for nine teenagers to bond together and create friendships that could last the rest of their lives.
But among this group there is a young man with a secret–a secret that, in this time and place, is unthinkable to his peers
When the others discover the truth, it will change each of them forever. They will all have blood on their hands.
Odd Man Out is a heart-wrenching tale of bullies and bigotry, a story that explores what happens when good people don’t stand up for what’s right. It is a tale of how far we have come . . . and how far we still have left to go.
James Newman, Biography
James Newman lives in North Carolina with his wife and their two sons.
His published work includes the novels Midnight Rain, The Wicked, Animosity and Ugly As Sin, and the collection People Are Strange. Still Waters, a short Christian-themed horror film based on his original screenplay, is now available for purchase at http://www.tackytiefilms.comwww.tackytiefilms.com.
Up next are the novels Dog Days O’ Summer and Scapegoat (co-written w/Mark Allan Gunnells and Adam Howe, respectively).
Praise for James Newman
“You might expect the work of a young Southern writer to show some roots, and you’ll see that clearly in James Newman’s writing. There’s a little bit of Davis Grubb and Joe Lansdale twisting into that dark earth, and a strong straight spike of Robert McCammon digging deep. But the story tree that grows above ground belongs to a tale-spinner who can raise one mean hunk of nightmare all on his own.” —Norman Partridge, author of The Man with the Barbed Wire Fists and Dark Harvest
“…a beautifully-written adult story of murder and a boy. Grimly true to life, evocative and compelling. I loved it!” —Piers Anthony, author of On a Pale Horse and Firefly
“James Newman’s Animosity courses a chilling descent into madness that’s downright Hitchcockian in the way the suspense slowly strangles the reader, tightening its grip to unbearable levels. And yet Newman brings as much humanity to this startling tale as he does horror. The result is a well-crafted, disturbing, and often heartbreaking foray into the dark netherworlds of the human experience that burrows under your skin, nests there, and continues to feed on you long after you’ve turned out the lights.” – Greg F. Gifune, author of The Bleeding Season
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