Thursday, January 29, 2009

Three-time Author Returns to WITS

James Ross is back to Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (WITS) for the editing of his third book. Here, we have a book review written by Sarah Moore, our author's assistant.

Tuey’s Course
Author: James Ross
ISBN: 978-1-4363-8994-5
Publisher: Xlibris 2008
Genre: fiction, human drama, race relations
Pages: 286
Reviewer: Sarah Moore for WITS (01/2009)

I always enjoy the opportunity to review more than one work by the same author. I am able to see the evolution of his writing as well as develop a better sense of what he is trying to accomplish through the sharing of his stories and characters. Tuey’s Course is the third book by author James Ross, with his previous publications, Lifetime Loser and Finish Line on the bookshelves last year and earlier this year, respectively. The Prairie Winds Golf Course serves as the consistent backdrop for all three novels, but each book takes its readers on a completely unique journey. In his first book, Ross unveiled a captivating story of crime and shady business dealings. Next, he shared the coming-of-age of two teenage boys who learn important life lessons from their ailing mentor. Now, in Tuey’s Course, Ross challenges us in his brutally honest portrayal of race, class and political power structures. Those who have enjoyed Ross’ attention to creating rich detail and fascinating characters in his previous works, as well as readers who are discovering Ross for the first time with Tuey’s Course, will not be disappointed in this new release that makes you think and may even make you angry.

Tuey’s Course focuses on WeWildapheet Ulisees O’Tweety (known as Tuey) and his struggles to make an honest living while fighting the corrupt elected officials in his town who seem determined to thwart his efforts at every turn. Tuey diligently attends every council meeting and sometimes uses unusual methods to convey his frustration with the city’s establishment. In sharing the details of Tuey’s life and his standing on the socioeconomic ladder, Ross makes a bigger statement about the impact that race and money has on the voice a person enjoys in our society. And, he shows that the desperation eventually reached by the poor and the overlooked can lead to tragic results. Ross continues his practice of interweaving multiple plot lines by including a referee who throws football games in return for a payout, a gay priest who flies to Vegas for the weekend with his lover at the expense of a crooked banker, and a developer who is willing to commit crimes in order to get the land that he desires. All of these characters, as well as the golf course regulars we have come to know in Ross’ previous books, come into contact with Tuey to create a novel that manages to be both layered and cohesive in its storylines.

As was the case in Finish Line, Ross employs racial stereotypes when writing the dialect and creating the background stories of his characters. Tuey speaks with the vernacular of an African-American in a way that may have been more common during the period in which Ross’ distant relative, Mark Twain, was sharing his candid views on American society. The ethnic neighborhoods described by Ross are blatant in their names, as the Asian residents live in Little Chang Hai and the Arabs live in an area called the Sand Dunes. The popular rapper has a ridiculous name, the Asian investor is short and shifty, and the always-drunk pilot and a couple of his cohorts at the golf course have no hesitation in using derogatory slurs. Every ethnic label is exposed and exaggerated in Tuey’s Course. Upon my initial reading, I will admit that the language made me uncomfortable. I was concerned that, by taking this writing style to extremes, Ross was simply perpetuating unfair racial views that still exist in our country. Upon further reflection and after reading the conclusion of the book; however, I realize that Ross’ intention was to evoke emotion from his reading audience. Tuey’s Course is not a light read meant for casual summertime reading at the beach. You will be forced to examine your own reaction to the character portrayals and think about where our society places different groups of people.

James Ross succeeds in creating yet another thoughtful and detailed book in Tuey’s Course. He provides an important and unique voice to the works of fiction that are making statements as to who we are as people. I believe that readers likely will have varying reactions to the characters in Tuey’s Course, which will make for great conversation. And, it appears that Ross is not done with his writing endeavors. A serial killer who makes random appearances through news reports in both Finish Line and Tuey’s Course is still a mystery. Is this a teaser from Ross, or just a secondary plot to throw us off-track? Time will tell. For now, I recommend that you grab a copy of Tuey’s Course and prepare to react!

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