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Book Review: Conversations With Mr. Prain by Joan Taylor

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First ignored, when published in 2006, by the critics, what Taylor has crafted here is at least a minor classic. Perhaps a major classic. Parallels will be drawn with John Fowles works, particularly “The Magus” but there is nothing of the supernatural here. Nothing of the deep drama with Gothic touches. Instead, the story is told much more directly, if intricately. Only Stella’s artistic daydreaming and explorations of her own worth makes the novel more than a straight narrative. Taylor writes in an original and engaging way and has a finely crafted plot that is very easy to be absorbed into. Conversations With Mr. Prain is very modern while still remaining familiar. The author knows her characters well, even though they are extremes on a scale and her use of literary symbolic metaphor is marvelous. This is a work told on many levels, both in its crafting and its subject matter, and a tale that the reader will revisit again and again and find new elements of attractions.

About The Dirty Lowdown

I was born in Pomona, California at a very young age. I had a pretty normal childhood…or I was a pretty normal child hood if mom is telling the story. I was a paperboy and washed cars. I was a soda fountain jock-jerk and a manic mechanic but my first real job was as a labor organizer in a maternity ward. Then, because of the misjudgment of a judge I spent nearly 10 years in the service of our country mostly on KP duty. Our country sure turns out a lot of dirty dishes. I am a past master at pots and pans. They eventually recognized my real talent and let me wander around some very unfriendly places carrying a big radio that didn’t work. Along the way I took up the bass guitar, jotting down stories, electronic engineering and earned a degree in advanced criminal activities. I spent most of my adult life, if you can call it that, working in the I.T. industry, which I was particularly suited for since we worked in rooms with no windows. On and off I taught in colleges, universities and reform schools as a student teacher… I like smog, traffic, kinky people, car trouble, noisy neighbors, and crowded seedy bars where I have been known to quote Raymond Chandler as pickup lines. I have always been a voracious reader, everything from the classics, to popular fiction, history to science but I have a special place in my heart for crime fiction, especially hard-boiled detective fiction and noir. I write a book and music review blog for all genres at The Dirty Lowdown. And another dedicated to Crime Fiction and all things Noir called Crimeways. It’s named after the magazine that appeared in the Kenneth Fearing classic, The Big Clock. There I write scholarly reviews of the classic hard boiled, noir and crime fiction books from the 20's through today. Mostly I drool over the salacious pictures on the covers. I also write for Tecnorati/BlogCritics where i am part of a sinister cabal of superior writers.
  • Paul De Lancey

    Great, interesting, useful review.