Jonathan Bach
Above the Clouds: A Reunion of Father and Son
Review by Ross Anthony

Since the pages of Jonathan's book frame letters like narrow windows caulked into walls of time, I'll scratch out my review as a letter as well.

Jonathan,
Thank you for writing the book. I had great fun reading it. I started it at the same time as Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the "Saint of Calcutta." What a soul shaking contrast! Just as your book reminds us of Richard's endeavor to live exactly as he wants and simply trust others to build and grow out of whatever falls apart as a consequence, Mother Teresa is delighted to starve her own desires and lunges with all her soul into suffering for others. These two polar opposite philosophies wrestled in my head while singing that line from Billy Joel's early work: "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints." Seemed quite wrong to ignore the rich storehouse of possibilities in between, so I enjoyed pondering scenarios in which both extremes could coexist in a single soul, each powered by the other somehow, a yin-yang engine of perpetual motion perhaps.

A trip to visit my father (and mother) prompted me to choose only one hardback with my carry-ons. Congrats - you beat out Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mother Teresa.

On page 206, you mention Julie. My "Julie," now my girlfriend, sat next to me on the 737. We read Above the Clouds above the clouds together. Book between us, beam of white light from above setting the pages aglow, we waited for each other to finish each 2-page set before turning to the next. Los Angeles to Chicago, we were completely and utterly engaged in your book. We giddily talked up our excitement over your story with our friends and family in Chicago, and then finished your book on the return just as the plane descended to the runway. Amazing timing.

A review for your would-be reader? Constructive criticism for you? Sure, here goes: While still fascinating, the second half's grip waned a smidgen. Due, no doubt, to the evaporation of that wonderful teenage angst, a great deal of tension was lost. And while it seemed you tried to replace it with the excitement of maturity, curiosity, and zest for life -- you just didn't quite tell that as well as the angst. In general, the book is inconsistently written. Early on, your blunt detached style periodically poked with a grand kicker at the close of a paragraph or chapter. Your analogies were curious and often clever, but just as often felt a bit too concocted or added later as a creative technique. Perhaps they stood out because of the journalistic bed you'd laid them in. Another jolt in style comes as you begin the painful story of your last night with Beth. Up to that point you had been painting in broad strokes, but you took your time describing that night. The pace of the book slipped into an eerie slow motion. Perhaps appropriately so, but it did leave me with a feeling of inconstancy in writing. Still, I must say, you had us all choked up. I never met your sister, but you had me missing her. Perhaps you could have experimented with a gradual slowing of the tale into this section.

The letters worked wonderfully. I absolutely loved that you interjected Richard's letters with your thoughts as we read through them. That kept us constantly in tune with your reactions - as if in real time. But, as the letters added up, they stole a bit from your otherwise captivating narrative. The texture of the tale changed because of them. That's a negative, but really, I wouldn't have wanted you to exclude a single one. It's a problem for which I have no solution suggestions. And lastly, the book's climax rests on that fateful late night call to Richard. It's a good build, but I'd have juiced it even more. You have a lot of resolution to ride out and nothing quite so intense to build towards, so the arc plateaus.

I greatly enjoyed Richard's afterward. His first paragraph so distinctly stands out as beautifully crafted. Which of course is simply not fair, he had decades more experience than you. Despite all these minor complaints, Above the Clouds is a lovely book that I would (and have already) recommended to people I care about. I realize also that I'm writing this letter to the Jonathan that just finished writing this book. Perhaps at this moment, you've already surpassed Richard's literate abilities and your need for any commentary babble on my part.

If it matters, I'm a fan of Illusions. It's one of the three books I keep copies of in order to give away. (The other two are: "The Little Prince" and "Caring Enough to Confront.") That said, besides "Seagull," I couldn't get into the other couple of Richard books I started. Btw, just one loose end, I assume you never went back to ask out Julie. But, if you did, I'd love to know how it went. If it's at all encouraging, my first meeting of my "Julie" went a little like yours. But, the universe brought her right back to me and with a little muster on my part, and an open mind on her end, we were able to make the soul mate connection.

Ross Anthony is a Great American Independent Author. For more on Mr. Anthony and his books click: www.RossAnthony.com or for more book reviews click: Book Reviews.


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Wednesday, 04-Dec-2013 10:20:58 PST