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Odd Man Out Kindle Edition
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It all came flooding back to me in this excellent short story "Odd Man Out". That is certainly not to say that I encountered extremes of behaviour but I can appreciate how James Newman skilfully used the summer camp setting to show the ugly side of human nature. Dennis Munce "D-Man" is spending the summer at Black Mountain Camp for Boys with his best childhood friend Wesley Westmore. It is indicated that Wesley has a secret, and something that he wishes to remain hidden in this boys will be boys setting...."We knew Wesley was not like us, even though we couldn't explain what we meant when we were nine or ten" In any group there are those egotistical individuals who seek to strengthen their peer standing by searching out those they see as weak or "different" and quite simply destroying them. What follows is a shocking example of the lowest form of human behaviour, why sometimes it is best not to remain silent in the face of evil, to act and put right and not just to follow!
James Newman is certainly one of the best authors I have been introduced to in my long association with "goodreads" a social networking site for booklovers. His writing is thoughtful, articulate and a joy to read quite simply he is an excellent story teller. Odd Man Out is one of best novellas I have had the pleasure to read this year, a story that paints a bleak picture of humanity but one that needs to be read if we are to fully understand and alter the way we view those who do not adhere to what we perceive as the norm.
Brilliantly written, this story keeps you turning the pages fast to see what is going to happen. A brutal ending.
We've all know Sean, maybe you are Sean....,
‘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.
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