Sunday, June 10, 2012

Review: In The Matter Of J. Van Pelt by Dave Shiflett

Title: In The Matter Of J. Van Pelt
Author: Dave Shiflett
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: February 1, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "In The Matter Of J. Van Pelt” is a book about obsession – political, religious, romantic and historical. It’s also about True Love and hope, which are also dangerous.

J. Van Pelt , 42, is a true believer on the slide. He works for a conservative legal foundation that has stumbled across a career-building case: Max Gold, a revered liberal fundraiser, has been observed in an innocent yet embarrasing position by a 12- year-old boy. The lad’s father demands justice – or at least a lawsuit that will force Gold to cough up substantial money to alleviate his son’s “pain and suffering.”

Putting Gold’s head on the wall would make Van Pelt an ideological superstar. Yet as he prepares to launch a lawsuit targeting Gold he feels increasingly ill at ease, largely due to reading his own diary entries. What sort of man, he wonders, hopes to advance himself this way? Only a loser and a crank.

Steadily, his ideological certitudes fall away. He’s also consumed by the impending death of his uncle Shupe, who is part Moses, part Snopes, and part W.C. Fields. He resides in Appomattox County, Va., where his family has lived for three centuries. He’s an old man, raised by a slave, who sailed the world with the Navy, came to believe in U.F.O.s, wants to be cloned. He has, he reveals, also dabbled in cannibalism.

By comparison, Van Pelt feels his life is empty and meaningless. He has never really taken a chance. The voice that presents itself in his diary – the Lurking Entity – convinces him he must break free from Washington. Van Pelt has also met a beautiful woman – Alison -- another life-changing development."

My Two Cents:

This book was very interesting to me for a couple factors. First, it's written in a journal format by J. Van Pelt (Jesus Van Pelt), who is not a very likable guy at all. He's uber conservative to the point of being blind. He's part of the DC establishment that we all love to pour Haterade all over (that's just not me, right?). Through writing the book as journal entries, we get an intimate picture of who Van Pelt is and why he does what he does.

On the other hand, the hard thing about using journal entries is that they are a person's thoughts. When we write down our thoughts in a journal, we may not be thinking in full sentences or writing down everything that you would if you were writing something for another person. That did get a little confusing throughout the book.

I really did not like Van Pelt at all. I found it very hard to care about him throughout the book. He does finally make his way towards a little bit of redemption. I did really like the character of Uncle Shupe. He was just an all around awesome guy. The parts of the book that talked about the things that he said were always very funny.

This is a fast read with an interesting and engaging writing style.



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