Book Title: Writer’s Block – a novel
Author: Hank Garner
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Available On: Amazon as an eBook and as a paperback
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Stu is a bestselling novelist, trying to conclude his trilogy of books, having ended book two with a cliffhanger and his hero stuck in literary limbo. Stu’s not sure how he can follow up his story and he has a deadline looming. Looking for inspiration, he powers up an old typewriter and writes up an outlandish yet unrelated story to see if it will help. But when this story comes true the next day, he cannot believe it.
In addition to this, Stu lives with his faithful dog Rolo, making his way through life day by day. Still grieving the loss of his wife five years ago, he relives older memories from when she was alive and he was very happy. He also meets a mysterious stranger, Waylon, and there is definitely more to him than meets the eye. Waylon, as it turns out, is connected to something much larger going on in Weston. But who is he really and how does he know so much about Stu and his past?
While Stu develops a friendship with Debby and her young daughter Ashley, tragedy strikes them and they must go to the hospital. And when someone new in town steps into the picture to help, who is this guy and why is he holding a revival meeting in a tent? The answers to these questions will delight you, as the way the story plays out is an emotional roller-coaster ride from start to finish, with surprising stakes, intriguing characters with that next-door-neighbor feel and powerful storytelling mixed with just the right amount of whimsy.
Stu is a wonderful character who’s well-illustrated and his struggles speak right to your heart as you read it. Over the course of this story, one of the underlying forces that inform his character is watching him cope with his repressed and complicated grief, his self-imposed isolation from most of society, trying to complete his novel and most importantly, his lack of faith and hope.
The circumstances he faces here force some introspection but it’s a difficult journey for him, pushing him to his emotional limits and compelling him to face some emotions he has avoided for so long. Stu’s difficulties with human connection and his sad view of the world due to his grief and his depression are all linked to one another. He evolves in the most individual and nuanced of ways, moving in unusual directions as he moves through this process.
Other great characters are Debbie and Ashley; their storyline and what happens to them are the catalyst for a series of realizations for Stu as he processes their precarious situation and tries to figure out what he should do, as their dilemma threatens to escalate out of his control and the true agenda of darker forces is exposed. Also, the revelations about Stu’s magical typewriter are quite delicious and significantly adds to the story in a very meaningful way.
All of these storylines dovetail together seamlessly to try to bring resolution to all areas of Stu’s life, though it does so in completely unexpected and unpredictable ways. By the finale, we see whether he successfully completes his journey that only he alone was meant to travel. How he does so is elegant, genuinely poetic and given Stu’s history, perfectly appropriate and earnestly heartfelt. Happy or sad, everyone gets an ending to their story.
This story perfectly captures the idyllic life of a small town as it’s a sparkling tale filled with personality and gentle charm. Add these wonderful characters and an urgent situation that grows ever direr on multiple levels and you get a truly flawless and fantastically satisfying novel, one that makes you feel it sincerely, as it is so emotionally provocative and well done.
I originally read this story when it was serialized and waiting for the next chapter to resolve those cliffhangers was painful because the story is so good and I had to know what happened next! But now, being able to read it from beginning to end as a complete novel without having to wait for the next installment, should only enhance your enjoyment of this tale.
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories by Hank Garner include “The Weston Files – collected stories from Hank Garner“, “The Pandora Codex – Oliver Webber, Book 1” and “World Domination: A Supervillain Anthology – Superheroes and Vile Villains, Book 2“.