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Only Milo Paperback – September 1, 2009
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Long after they've finished the last page of Only Milo, readers will laugh heartily. The hero, a schemer, forger, and self-plagiarizing novelist, casts his magical spell over us no less than he does all the scheming, manipulative, and self-absorbed characters around him. The brief chapters of this marvelous comedy are gem-like, brilliant. Those of us who have waited for a satirical figure as unforgettable as Chauncey Gardiner in Jerzy Kosinski's Being There, can, at last, stop waiting. --Kevin McIlvoy, The Complete History of New Mexico, Hyssop, Little Peg
Perversely intriguing. --Thom Chambliss, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association
'enough twists to make Hitchcock smile' --Larry Colton, Pulitzer Prize nominee, Community of Writers founder
From the Back Cover
Meet Milo, a closet writer who emerges from his dull, SPAM-flavored retirement to become an unseen force in the literary world. But when Milo's illicit ghostwriting is nearly exposed on national television, his options are limited. In a world of egotistical, no-talent authors and duplicitous, back-stabbing publishers, how can Milo achieve the recognition he deserves?
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I've never had the experience of reading a book and thinking at its conclusion that this would make a great movie. This one would.
I'd be more of a fiction reader, if more novels were like this. Excellent book, and I hope there are more where this came from. (In the spirit of full disclosure, the author and I crossed paths many years ago as new professors. In fact, we had a common goal of wanting to become a fiction writer--Barry has grandly succeeded with this effort. I, on the other hand, well we don't need to go there.... Suffice it to say that I am both envious of and happy for his success.)
The author doesn't fill up the pages with extra words and unnecessary descriptions. I usually take a peek at the end when reading a crime story, but am not going to spoil it this time.
For a first novel, this is wonderful. I hope the author has some more in his closet!
And you know? Milo's tired of it. He's tired of the struggling, day in and out. So when a chance encounter with Margaret, a dynamic young publisher, brings the literary fame that much closer to his grasp, he pounces on the opportunity. Of course, pairing up with Margaret also means pairing up with Jose Calderon, her "gem in the rough." Jose, a young man who has been writing mediocre books in Mexico, has been picked up by Margaret's company for release rights in the U.S. The only issue? The books are all in Spanish. And how convenient that Milo can actually "translate" them for the company...
With one decision, Milo sets off a chain of events that would make a "CSI" or "Dexter" fan flip the pages incessantly. Told in very short, numbered chapters -- usually only a page or two apiece -- Milo takes us through the ups of subterfuge and sudden literary stardom before catapulting us back down into the lows after he loses everything. It's impossible to really talk about the plot without giving anything away, so I'll keep it at that!
I'm a nervous reader. If I have an inkling that something bad is about to befall a character, I'm going to flip furiously through the book until I reach that moment of no return. I can't amble along, feigning obliviousness, when I know a shoe is about to drop. But trying to do that with ONLY MILO? Impossible. Of course I knew this was a darkly humorous thriller about life in the literary world, but I couldn't have possibly predicted all the snake-like twists the story would take. Quite simply, it's impossible to figure out what's going to happen.
I'm not a fan of crime shows -- I'll take back-to-back episodes of "Ugly Betty" over "CSI" any time -- but I still enjoyed the book for its supremely fast-paced, punchy writing style and short chapters. When reading, it all feels fluid -- quick, like water running from a tap. While there is a sustained level of violence in the novel, it's not overly gory or sick. Milo himself is a completely dead-pan, sarcastic and, ultimately, sympathetic narrator -- and despite everything, I still found myself hoping he'd eventually find peace and success in his own right.
ONLY MILO is definitely a one-of-a-kind read; stylistically, I've never read another novel like it. Even the book's typeface is unique -- like an antique typewriter. Aspiring writers will grin a little at the chaos and injustice of it all, too, and fans of crime dramas will probably enjoy the references even more than I did. You can easily polish this one off in a hour or two, and it's worth the read!
It was shocking to see the callousness of Milo has he continues on his way to success. That was what was so incredible about this book. Milo is a horrific murderer and yet I care about the guy. I don't want him to get caught; I want him to be successful and find the happiness he's been looking for.
What will a person do to gain their heart's dreams? We come face to face with the demon inside us all. How many people do we step on to gain our dreams and desires, how many do we callously overlook and destroy? I thought this was a brilliant satire on how we can corrupt ourselves to the point of losing our souls. Yet, in the end, Milo finds success and happiness; just as in life when good things happen to bad people, or people less-deserving.
Barry Smith really shows us Milo, who he is, in only 256 pages. A fascinating read that makes you laugh and think! I say, a wonderful combination!
Thanks to Nicole, again, for letting me be apart of the Only Milo book blog tour and giving me the chance to read such a fun and thought-provoking book!