Book I of The Eedoo Trilogy

“The Power of Meditation”

A review by Joey Madia

Book I: Sharoo Awakens

Spirituality is often difficult to talk about with children. Despite numerous studies that show that meditation can help with everything from concentration to stress, most school systems do not have meditation programs, as it is perceived by many parents to be a form of religion—and one to which they are not comfortable having their children exposed.

Given this unfortunate situation, W. W. Rowe’s Eedoo Trilogy is important. Taking place in a parallel universe where things are close enough to ours to be recognizable but different enough to be a fun literary device, these chapter books (each chapter is set off by an illustration by Benjamin Slatoff-Burke) introduce or reinforce the importance of being in touch with your higher self, represented in Book I by the enigmatic, warning spirit guide/guardian angel called Eedoo (who is termed a Floater).

Like imaginary friends, the existence of Eedoo is questioned by adults, with some significant results.

I mentioned that the parallel universe is fun. This is partially so because of the adjustments to common words and phrases, which also serve, similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events, to call attention to vocabulary (e.g., flutterbys instead of butterflies). There are also phrase adjustments like sleep room and water rituals (washing up, we called it). Continue reading

John A. Keel: The Man, The Myths, and The Ongoing Mysteries

A review by Joey Madia

If you are interested in the paranormal—whether it be UFOs, cryptids, or poltergeist and haunting phenomena—chances are good that you know the name John A. Keel. A journalist turned paranormal investigator and author of some of the foundational works in the field (including perhaps his most famous—The Mothman Prophecies), Keel was cutting edge and controversial.

To fully appreciate his complexity, Brent Raynes—a life-long investigator, publisher, and podcast host—delivers a text that is part biography and part survey of the areas that Keel was studying and the prevalent investigators who are still carrying on that work. I found this approach to be refreshing and appropriate given who Keel was, and, as stated in the subtitle, the “ongoing mysteries” that survive him in death. It is also an opportunity for the reader to apply Keel’s cutting-edge theories in “real-time” to the cases that Raynes includes, which cover areas such as tulpas, poltergeists, alien abduction, and the lore around Aleister Crowley.

I was introduced to Keel’s work after watching the film based on his book about the cryptid sadly named “The Mothman” and visiting the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia on the Ohio River in 2009, where my wife and I saw an interdimensional being. Ten years later, we are professional paranormal investigators and authors and the works of John Keel have been invaluable to our work and understanding of these complex phenomena. Continue reading

Jackson: The Iron Willed Commander

“Old Hickory”

Review by Joey Madia

If all you know about the seventh president of the United States is his long, chiseled face and mass of white hair on the twenty-dollar bill, you’ve been missing out.

This excellent biography begins with a prologue covering the rabble-rousing ruckus that was Jackson’s inauguration on March 4, 1829. Jackson was a new kind of candidate—unlike his six predecessors in this still-new nation, he was a “man of the people.” In no way an insider, this rugged frontiersman who broke the mold of presidents coming from Massachusetts or Virginia had strong beliefs and was never afraid to defend or act on them. John Quincy Adams, the outgoing president, refused to attend.

Not unlike Alexander Hamilton, Jackson was a “willful boy with a chip on his shoulder” (6) and a mess of contradictions—a daily lifelong reader of scripture, he was also known for his ability to swear with the best of them. He and his brothers fought in the American Revolution, starting Jackson’s complex relationship with death and loss and his ability to carry on despite being wounded. Also like Hamilton, he had a penchant for duels. He had at least three, the second of which resulted in his being wounded in the torso and his killing his opponent, and the third resulting in his carrying a bullet in his body for years after. While taking his law degree, Jackson solidified his reputation as a “roaring, rollicking, game-cocking, horse-racing, card-playing, mischievous fellow” (15).

A great deal of Jackson’s controversy stems from an innocent clerical error. The love of his life, Rachel, had been in a terrible marriage. Leaving her abusive husband she fell in love with and married Jackson, although she was technically not divorced. Jackson’s enemies—and they were considerable—would use this against him, raising his ire as they portrayed the innocent Rachel as a bigamist and unwholesome woman. Continue reading

Witness in the Convex Mirror

“An Innovator, Always”

Review by Joey Madia

It is always a special day when a new work by this innovative and energetic writer arrives in my mailbox. Over the past 10 years, I’ve reviewed about 20 percent of Tabios’ over fifty published works, at times being inspired to be as innovative as the poet and the particular work in how I did so.

Part of her ability to be so prolific is the way she reworks, recycles, and reimagines her own writings and the writings of others—in this case, as the Author’s Note indicates: “Each poem begins with 1 or 1–2 lines from ‘Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror’ by John Ashbery.” In many of my previous Tabios reviews I talk at length about her various means of working with existing pieces to create something new, so I won’t belabor it here. Instead, I’ll say that ALL work a writer or other artist produces is linked to and derivative of something—many things—that have come before.

Tabios simply has the self-awareness to be up front about it, even when it is more ephemeral than repurposing lines from another poet’s already existing poem.

Although Tabios has always been to some extent political, be it the Filipino diaspora, 9/11 and the world ever since, or the complexities of gender or adoption for adopter and adoptee, I found Witness in the Convex Mirror to take it to a new level. And the clue is in the substitution of Witness for Self-Portrait. As many a wise and wizened soul has told us, to Witness is to be responsible to Speak. And speak Tabios does, on a variety of pressing subjects in a hurting and hurtful world. So this review will be less about the technical achievement and more about the content of the poems and the responses they evoke. Continue reading

Soothing the Savage Swamp Beast

Review by Joey Madia

If you are looking for a weird but fun ride this summer, this novella might just be for you. But a quick word of warning. Know what you’re getting into. As you’ll notice, this is published by Bizarro Pulp Press. So let’s get some definitions from Wikipedia:

Bizarro fiction: a contemporary literary genre, which often uses elements of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre fiction staples, in order to create subversive, weird, and entertaining works.

Pulp fiction: lurid, exploitative, and sensational subject matter
So, Bizarro Pulp… you can only imagine. And you should.

But this label has nothing to do with quality. Although it is in many ways the ink-on-paper analog of Slasher Films, complete with lots of violence, sex, and, well… bizarreness, it can also be just as fine and releasing as a Rob Zombie film.

If that’s your sort of thing. If it is, read on. I don’t read a lot of Bizarro, but I have read and reviewed some anthologies and stand-alones. Knowing what I am getting when I am going in, I adjust my mindset and just enjoy, if the author’s talent allows.

Because all the same standards apply. You need interesting characters with an arc, and an at least semi-cohesive narrative and an interesting problem to solve.

Although, in Bizarro, the characters are often deeper in the shit at the end than when they started. And this is truly its appeal. Continue reading