Open Wounds by Brandon Ford

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I had issues with this book.  I’m just going to start with that.  I’m glad I had issues with it, I’ll be up front with that as well.  This was a powerful book and I wasn’t expecting that.  It took me places, that frankly i didn’t want to go. But like Kate, I had little choice.  I couldn’t make it stop nor could I turn away.

Kate Montgomery was fourteen years old in 1981.  She lived in L.A. with her parents until her father’s gambling addiction and poor decisions takes its ultimate toll on the family.  The resulting divorce places her in a car with her mother going to her mother’s home town of Philadelphia.  She isn’t thrilled to be there but tries to make the best of it.  Hard to love grandparents and few friends don’tt make things easier.  Her one solace was a leather-bound diary which become the most important thing to her.

As Kate tries to navigate her new life and new school she meets Marie and the two outcasts become fast friends.  Kate’s mother, a career housewife up until the divorce, finds a job as a bar waitress.  This leaves Kate home alone at night much of the time.  As she becomes closer to Marie they begin to share their secrets and vices.  Maire introduces her to weed and boys.  Both of which become a blessing and burden for her as time goes on.

The real downward spiral for young Kate started when she comes home to find her mother and her mother’s new ‘friend’ in the living room.  Grady was a bad decision dressed in stale smoke and beer breath.  The longer he stayed around, the farther Kate’s mother fell farther into the same habit of co-dependency with the first asshole that showed her some attention.  His not so subtle attraction to Kate pushes her to withdraw from her school work and leads her to her own series of bad decisions.  Her withdrawal and obvious disdain for the drunken lout does little to dissuade him from crawling into her bed one night.

The worst was only yet to come as Kate’s life quickly begins to unravel and the darkness in her life only compounds on itself.  One by one the people in her life either abandon her or push her away. She finds a new way to push all the horror in her life momentarily aside.  The blade on her soft flesh slices only the once before she finds in it a moments euphoria.  Keeping a small paring knife handy, her way of escape leaves scars.

 

As disturbing as it is powerful, Open Wounds refused to let me put it down.  I admit that some of the most difficult parts for me was when Kate put knife to skin. It wasn’t the knife slicing the flesh of her arms and thighs that disturbed me the most, it was confronting my own memories of doing the same thing when I was younger.  My own life did not mirror hers but those feelings of hopeless frustration are universal.  The only difference is degree.  I wasn’t expecting that, nor was I expecting the unflinching journey that the characters in this novel walked either.  Well written and engrossing, I cannot recommend Open Wounds enough.  This is certainly a must read.

 

==> Find it here on Amazon<===

 

Remember kids:  Stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and always keep a Swedish friend around when building IKEA furniture.

 

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Vacation slide show (and yes, you are obligated to sit through it)

My poor neglected blog. Here it sits collecting cobwebs and mementos of more halcyon days when I actually wrote in it somewhat regularly.

What can I say, I’ve been busy. I’m about to start a new job, I’ve been working hard on a few different writing projects, and I’ve been doing the radio show.  I also managed to squeeze a vacation in there too, a much needed vacation.  As much as I love Austin, it’s always good to get back home to Idaho and see family and friends.  And mountains, and seasons, and giant cracks in the earth.

Going back to Twin Falls is always a little surreal.  I lived there for 30 years and only 5 here in Austin, but Austin has felt like home to me for most of the that time.  Back in Idaho, driving in and crossing the Perrine Bridge is that feeling of coming home, but I’m also conscious of the fact that home is also four states away.  I’ve only been back a couple of times since moving here, so naturally I see as many people as I can and do the nostalgia tour.  Gotta go take in the sights of so many good times (and battles) to get those warm fuzzies of my yesterdays.  And the subtle reminders of why I left in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, I love where I’m from, but Southern Idaho is no Austin.  I can’t go hear great live music at almost any time back home, or visit places like The Museum of the Weird, or drink Shiner.  Every time I do go back I am always struck at the beauty of the area. For the most part it is scrub, sagebrush, and rattlesnakes.  Just lots of browns and faded green framed by hills and mountains on the distant horizon.  There is a desolate beauty to it.  The miles and miles of lonely rolling earth has own ponderous attractiveness. A no-mans land one can get lost in to find yourself.

Like this.
Like this.

But then you get to a giant crack in the earth.  The Snake River Canyon tends to be where the real action is, so to speak.  It is awe-inspiring as it winds and wends across the land.  Living there, it’s easy to take it for granted.  ‘Oh, yeah.  It’s just the canyon.  Big whoop-dee-do.’  But going back gives fresher eyes and I realized that it really is a thing of natural beauty.

Looking at the Canyon
Looking at the Canyon
Still looking at the Canyon
Still looking at the Canyon
We're still looking at the Canyon.
We’re still looking at the Canyon.

And of course the bridge that people come from all over the world to jump off of.  (and not just for pretty suicides either) By that I mean BASE jumping and whatnot.

If driving over bridges makes you squeamish; check out this horror story.
If driving over bridges makes you squeamish; check out this horror show.

 

So long story short: I went back home on vacation and it’s one of the reasons I haven’t written anything on here in a while.

In other news==>  there really isn’t any other news.  Night Shall Overtake is still shooting for a June publication and my radio show, The Headphone Bleed, is still chugging along (see link on the sidebar).  I’m still open to reviewing and promoting any good artistic endeavors that come my way so please drop me a line and I would love to check it out.  You can contact me at michaelr4224@yahoo.com.

 

Remember kids: Stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and if at first you don’t succeed just blame the temp.