Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: Radiance

Radiance by Louis B. JonesLink

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Counterpoint
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Hardcover, 240pp
ISBN-13: 9781582437361
ISBN: 158243736

(Received for an honest review from Julia Drake PR)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Louis B. Jones on the WEB: website, facebook

Excerpt from Radiance


Mark Perdue has so many problems that when he starts feeling chest pains on the tarmac at LAX, it dawns on him that a heart attack might be an efficient way out. Once an eminent physicist, he hasn’t published or had a new idea in a decade. The younger professors at UC Berkeley pity him, and he’s taken to using the back staircases to avoid their looks, which all seem to be labeling him dead weight. At home, his wife has been inconsolable since the recent late-term abortion of their afflicted fetus. And he can’t deny it any longer—he is decidedly losing his mental faculties to chronic Lyme disease.

Now Mark is visiting Los Angeles with his ambitious daughter, Carlotta, so she can attend a “Celebrity Fantasy Vacation,” in which she is promised three days and two nights of the rock star lifestyle (musical talent not required, promises the brochure). On stage, Carlotta sings her way to a new self-confidence, giving Mark a glimmer of joy in her sense of victory. But then she disappears with her newly acquired paraplegic boyfriend to take an excursion to the Hollywood sign and gets them all arrested, Mark included. Mark now faces a night in jail—and maybe a hint of what he really needs to be happy.


Author Louis B. Jones gives readers a look at the meaning of life through one man's eyes, in his latest book, Radiance. Radiance delves into many issues facing the everyday reader, life and death, lust and marriage, faith and religion, among other things. Jones proves to be a master wordsmith and readers will find his philosophical musings both poignant and entertaining. Set against the backdrop of Hollywood, and playing on the edge of emotion, this is a great novel for a sophisticated reader.

Mark Perdue once was an eminent physicist, at the top of his field. He was respected and looked up to by his peers. But times have changed. Mark is now an aging man, with a lot of issues. He hasn't had a new idea in years, his colleagues are less than impressed and he and his wife have just lost a child in late pregnancy. When he decides to take his 16 year old daughter Carlotta to a three day self-esteem building, Celebrity weekend in Hollywood, he gets a lot more than he bargained for. So much happens, from a possible heart-attack, a stint in jail, to feelings for someone other than his wife and figuring out what just may be the real meaning of life.

I hardly know where to begin with this one, there are so many things that could be mentioned. Louis B. Jones is coming off of huge success with his novels Ordinary Money, Particles of Luck, and California Over, all New York Times Notable books. I think this book is quite different from Jones' previous works. There is less humor in Radiance, and a little more cynicism in the beginning. But overall it is a very solid book, written in a thoughtful way that will have readers questioning themselves and how they look at life.

I thought Jones did such a wonderful job of conveying his ideas and thoughts through words. The way that he expresses himself is very engaging and provokes a lot of emotion. He is a truly gifted wordsmith. I think one of an author's greatest achievements is giving the reader something to think about. If a book continues to stay on your mind long after you've read it, whether it's because it was such a great story or because it gave you something to think about then the author has done his or her job. And Jones certainly did his job with this one. Even now I find myself considering some point that Mark made in the book, about religion or desire or even death. Well done!

To me the characters in this novel are a lot less important than the subject matter. However, i did enjoy reading about Mark and his family. He was a very colorful character. At one point he even thinks that death would be an easy way out of a less than happy life. I think readers will identify with Mark because everyone has situations in their lives that don't go the way they think they will or should go. I think people do a lot thinking about the same kinds of things Mark thinks about. I liked him in spite of his cynicism in the beginning and I was happy that he comes to some sort of epiphany in the end.

I think this is a book for readers who are interested in the journey, we call life. I think it will appeal to readers who like a sophisticated subject matter and to readers who love words, just for the sack of words. There will be readers who find this book out of their comfort zone and readers who will find it fascinating. The question is... which one are you? There is definitely a lot in this book and a lot to think about. It might sound a bit heavy, but it's fast-paced and very thought provoking!

Radiance is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Louis B. Jones is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Ordinary Money, Particles of Luck, and most recently, California Over. He lives in the Sierra Nevada.


Susan @ Reading World said...

This isn't the kind of book I usually read, but you make it sound irresistible. Great review!