Saturday, February 13, 2016

Excerpt+ Review + Author's Interview: An American Dynasty by by Jon D. Zimmer

An American Dynasty

About the Book

An American Dynasty is the story of one family’s rise from the extreme poverty of the Great Depression to a dynasty of wealth and politics. 
They are a family filled with empathy for their fellow countrymen as Jack Gilbert struggles with the paradoxes of the Great Depression: "Why are people hungry when there is enough food for everyone? Why are so many people without shelter when we can provide shelter for everyone? Why is there such an abundance of ignorance when we have the ability to educate everyone?" 
They are a family of lust: "…they realise they are naked in a business office on a Sunday morning. Mary epitomises the moment by getting up from the sofa and dancing naked around the office. Jack is in hysterics." 
They are a family of extreme passion: "Is that how you see me, a suckling on my breast, and a penis being capriciously thrust inside of me? Is that your vision of a woman’s role in your idyllic society? Well, I certainly don’t want any part of it." 
They are a family that knows death: "He sees one more German still alive…he raises his arm with the pistol in his hand and shoots him twice in the head." 
They are a family fearful for their country’s future: "He has one final thought before entering politics. Freedom is not lost, it is stolen, and the thief is absolute wealth. 

Book Links

This is a story about young man, Jack Gilbert, who is travelling to California in hopes of going to college and changing his family's fortune. He has an eventful journey. He meets hobos, sees people die and kill one too. Also meets a girl, Marry, for some reason he wants to help her. After their exciting journey things quiet down for them for a while. Jack's Uncle and Aunt are both kind and generous.
The story is set the time period of great depression. It was not an easy time and the author has captured that craziness of that period beautifully. I like the characters and to-the-point-way of writing as well. Story flows smoothly with a few twists here and there. As we see Jack struggling to make best of every situation, trying to survive at first and then trying to increasing his family's fortune.
It's a great read, fast paced story which kept my interest through out. It's a good book for readers who enjoy reading crime thrillers.

During a lull in the conversations, Fred asks Jack why a young and healthy guy like him, has joined the ranks of the hobos. Jack replies," My family was having trouble making ends meet, so rather than become a burden on them, I decided to go to California and look for work. I have an aunt and uncle out there who said they would help me get a part time job while I go to college."
All of the group now  look at Jack as someone different from the rest of them, he has a place to go to, and he is going to go to college. Most of these men have never finished high school,  they are older, but at this moment they don't feel any wiser. Jack now has a presence among the hobos. Fred feels it, and unwittingly acquiesces his de facto leadership to Jack.
 In the utterance of a few sentences, Jack has become the symbol for the hopes and dreams of this small group. No one makes any comments, or gestures recognising it, it just happens, and the dialogue now focuses on Jack. Jack also senses his growing stature within the group, although he can't explain it, and it will be some time before he realises that it is because he has never experienced the financial and intellectual destitution that is haunting these men.
Danny, another hobo in the group stands up and says, "Look, the smoke from the train." Everyone stands up and watches. The other groups also turn their attention to the oncoming train. In an instant everyone is scurrying for the spot where the train will be at its' slowest approaching the curve and the bridge. As each find a spot they lay down in the gulley on both side of the tracks, to avoid detection. There are as many as twenty hobos on each side of the tracks. Jack and his group have a good spot.
As the train approaches, it begins to slow down, by the time it reaches the curve, just before the bridge crossing, it is going slow enough for the hobos to jump on. Its' a long train, and everybody waits until the locomotive is some distance ahead on the bridge, then some of the hobos begin to jump between the cars, while others wait for an open car.
Jack's group waits for an open freight car. Two of them approach about half way through the length of the train. Jack and his friends take the second box car. So far everything seems alright. There are about eight hobos that jump into the second car with Jack and his group.
They are all settling down in the freight car, when Fred yells, "Oh no." Everyone jumps up and goes to the open door.  They see a man falling in mid air. He is silent.  As he is falling, he does a summersault, and he is now going head first into the dry riverbed some two hundred feet below the bridge. It is almost like he wants to be sure that he will not survive the fall.
Jack turns away. He doesn't want to see the man hit the ground. As Jack turns away, so do the rest of the men in the car. They are quiet, each within their thoughts, Did he commit suicide? Was he careless, and fell from the car?  Did someone push him? 
The silence is finally broken, when Jason says, "Could anyone see who it was?" No one responds. Then Jason speaks again, reciting everyone's thoughts, "Do you think he committed suicide?"
 Fred speaks up, "It sure looks like he did. There is no reason for anyone to push him out of that car."
Everyone kind of shakes their head in agreement with Fred's remarks, and then they settle  back down waiting for the next stop, waiting for hope, waiting for something that might bring a semblance of the life they are looking for.
Jack's thoughts are a little more philosophical, and he keeps them to himself. He has not yet experienced the despair, and the hopelessness that most of these men have, and he doesn't want to. He never wants to think of any man's life as being  insignificant, of being nothing more than a passing thought, of how did he, or she  die.
His thoughts now become less philosophical, sadder as he thinks about the man. He knows that he has a mother and a father, maybe brothers and sisters, other relatives, school mates and friends, and from time to time they will think of him, but right now he is no more than carrion for the coyotes and the birds. Totally forgotten, and of no significance to those with him, in his moment of death.
Jack is emotionally shaken by the chain of events that has occurred these past few days. His thoughts are taking him back to his senior year in high school, and a reading by his teacher in his English Literature class. It is a sermon from John Donne written over three hundred years ago:
"No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
Those words have resonated with Jack ever since he heard them. He believes them. He feels that we have nothing without each other. He sees the horrors of poverty destroying the beauty of his gullible, yet paradoxically, morally correct values.

An Interview with the Author

1. What are some of your writing habits?
     After writing for several hours I stop and go over what was written for grammar and content. Particularly content, sometimes I may change different pathways of the novel.

2. What inspired you to choose the genre you write in?
    I have written in several genres, however I am very politically motivated and no matter what genre I am writing in, I will always manage to get my politics expressed, very subtly.

3. In your opinion how important it is to choose a right name for your character?
     Unless you plan to use a name in a symbolic way, I simply choose a name from someone I eliminates any search for the supposed perfect name.

4. What has been the best compliment given to you as an author?
     "Its a Great book"

5. Sometimes authors write about characters that are like them in some way or facing similar challenges/situations. Are any of your characters like you?
     Maybe unconsciously.

6. What is your biggest dream and worst nightmare?
      Losing ideas...not being able to write.

7. Have you ever written something you absolutely loved but were unable to get it published?
     No, just the opposite, I wrote something I disliked, and it was published.

8. What do you like most about writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer or did it happen unexpectedly?
     I always wanted to be a writer, however it is very difficult to support a family writing in one's youth. I was fortunate to be able to retire from business early, and then began writing. The thing I like most about writing is the complete control you have over events that you create.

9. If you could have one superpower what will it be?
     Not a super power, just that everyone would realise the only thing we have in life is each other.

10. Any advice or words for your readers and fans?
       Be honest with your self, and things will fall into place for you. 

Author Links

Twitter: @JonDZimmer