Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Room for Two

Room for Two
By Abel Keogh
Published by Cedar Fort, Inc.
Trade Paperback
215 pages, $14.99

When I received Room for Two in the mail and took one look at the cover, a single word flew through my head… “ChickLit!” Then I read the synopsis on the back cover and said to myself, “Self,” I always talk to myself in the third person, it helps to separate the various voices competing for dominance inside my head, “Self,” I said, “This book is prime material for the Lifetime network, or maybe Oxygen. You, my friend, are going to hate this book.”
So, while I was trying to finish up the last book I was reading, my dear wife asked if she could read it. I believe that my response to her was, “you might as well, ‘cause I’m not going to like it.” She LOVED it by the way.

Does the phrase; “Can’t judge a book by its cover” mean anything to you, because Room for Two taught me a very valuable lesson indeed. Let me tell you why…

I first picked up this book at about 11:00 one night thinking that I would get started and get a feeling for how the author wrote before giving it a really good effort on the bus the next morning. I figured that I would get a couple of pages read before I fell asleep, and that would be a good start. Well… thirty something pages later I was still reading and wanting to do more, but had to get some sleep or I would be useless at work the next day.

Before I go on, I must confess something… I am a crybaby. Oh yes, gentle reader, many of my books have soft, salty tear stains in among their pages. While driving with my dear wife, I have hidden tears behind my sunglasses when touching songs come on the radio, it’s something that I have come to live with… before I'm required to turn in my "Man Card" let’s move on. And so there I was on the bus the next morning reading away, tears stinging my eyes as I read. Stealthily, I wiped them away, closed the book, placed it in my book bag, (read: Man Purse) and dug out my MP3 player to pipe some Tribal Celt music (The Wicked Tinkers) into my head… Unfortunately, the sound of Bag -Pipes usually causes me to swell with Celtic pride, which is almost always followed by… yes my friends… tears. There is no winning.

Seriously, I’ve been making light of this book… but that’s my way. This is a very good read. Mr. Keogh is a fantastic writer who has the ability to pull you into his story, so much so, that you can almost see and feel his raw emotion. It is, almost, a tactile experience beginning with the smell of the spent gunpowder in his apartment to the feel of a loved ones hand in the end. The story becomes that real to the reader because it was very real to the author.

Room for Two chronicles the author’s experiences from the suicide of his pregnant wife, through his grieving, his anger, and his growth as he tries to forgive his late wife for her actions, and himself for not being able to prevent her from doing them. As the story progresses, Mr. Keogh tells his readers about his misadventures in trying to remember how to date and we are able to struggle with him as he tries to find room enough in his heart for a new love of his life. The story is sad in many places, funny in others, and spiritually enlightening throughout.
It is truly a must read.

As with all my book reviews so far, (all three of them) I was able to pose a few questions to the author about his book.

Murph: Mr. Keogh, it is truly an honor.
Abel Keogh: My pleasure. I appreciate you taking the time to interview me.

Murph: Can we start by settling a question that has plagued me from the day I picked up your book? How do you pronounce your last name?

Abel Keogh: It’s pronounced Key-o. The “gh” is silent.

M: As I said in my review, the emotion in your book is just raw; I’m almost warn out from it. What was the catalyst for you to get this story onto paper?

AK: Dealing with the emotional roller coaster that came with writing Room for Two was probably the most unpleasant part of the entire process. It wasn’t fun to relive a lot of those moments though it was a relief to finally have everything out on paper.

The main catalyst for writing Room for Two was an utter lack of compelling memoirs about losing a spouse. The books I tried to read in the months after my late wife’s death were poorly written and very preachy. I wanted to write something with broad appeal – something that everyone could enjoy even if they hadn’t lost a spouse.

M: What did your wife, Julianna, think of you writing this book?

AK: Julianna was very supportive of the writing process and gave me the time I needed to complete the book. She didn’t care whether or not it was published. What she really wanted was “our story” written down so our children would know how we met and that they have a half-sister in heaven.

M: Do you and Julianna still run? And have you ever joined her in running a marathon?

AK: Yes, we still run. We don’t run together as much as we’d like because having three young kids makes that difficult. When the weather’s good, however, you can find us running together, pushing our kids running strollers, on Saturday mornings.
We ran a marathon together about five months after we were married. Actually, together is a pretty loose term. She bolted ahead as soon as the race started. I didn’t see her again until the finish line. She’s run several since them. I’m more content to run shorter races like 5ks or 10ks.

M: Did you ever find out what Krista’s final message, “no matter what I do, the consequences are the same,” meant?

AK: No, I never did learn what she was trying to say. I attribute it to her insanity.

M: I know from your book that you read random sampling’s of Krista’s journals, did you ever read her last few entries in order to find a reason for her suicide?

AK: Krista’s journal writing became very erratic in the months leading up to her suicide. She stopped writing about six weeks before she died. What she did write leaves no clues as to her motives for taking her own life. However the writing doesn’t sound like Krista. Even though the entries are in her handwriting, when I read it, it seems like someone else wrote it.

M: Okay, off of the heavy stuff, and on to the standard question for a Mind of Murph interview… Are you a fan of Joss Whedon?

AK: It depends. I liked the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I could never get into Angel. I heard great things about Firefly but I’ve never seen any episodes.

M: If you could be any character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Firefly… who would it be and why?

AK: Probably Angel. Something about a vampire with a soul appeals to me. Maybe there’s a better character in Firefly. I’m thinking I really need to put that TV show in my Netflix queue.

M: You won’t be disappointed, my word of honor as a Boy Scout Drop-out. Okay… If I were raid your bookshelves right now, what books would I find?

AK: A little bit of everything. I read just about anything that has a good plot and interesting characters. Probably the best way is to check out the books on my GoodReads page at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/844543.Abel_Keogh. I have several hundred books on my shelves and am doing my best to add them to my profile by the end of the year.
Recently, I’ve been buying and reading lots of detective fiction. It’s a genre I never read until I married Julianna but I’ve discovered that some of the genre’s authors like Michael Connelly and Robert Crais are some of the best writers working today.
M: Wow, I glad to see that you aren’t one of those Good Reads authors who have 2 books listed and 9000 “friends.” By the way, I went through your book lists and added a few to my “to read” list, thanks… Umm, This next question is from my wife… What ever happened to Jennifer? Did she ever find anyone?

AK: I’ve heard through the grapevine that she’s been happily married for about five years. I hope that’s true. I haven’t spoken to her since the relationship ended.

M: Who’s better… Captain Kirk or Captain Picard?

AK: Picard. For some reason I never liked Kirk. Even as a kid, watching reruns on Saturday afternoons, I was always hoping Kirk would get vaporized so Spock could take over.

M: Like I’ve said, I really like your writing style; do you have any other books in the works?

AK: I’m currently working on my first novel. I’ve discovered that fiction is harder to write than non-fiction. Still, I plan on having a publishable manuscript by the end of the summer.

M: Well thank you, Sir. Please keep in touch will you?

AK: Of course. Thank you for your time.
A full list of Blog Tour reviews, of which I am the only man… Go figure… can be found on Abel Keogh’s web site: http://www.abelkeogh.com/blog/?p=513
Please leave a comment, I’d like to know what’s on your mind… Please?


Candace E. Salima said...

Great review and interview Murph. I enjoyed the entire thing. "Room for Two", I agree, is a powerful read. It's a must have.

You're on Goodreads? Me too. Find me and add me!

John'swife said...

Ok. I need to read this book. Mostly because just the interview made me cry. When Terri was telling me about it on Saturday, I didn't realize that it was a non-fiction book. I don't know why that makes a difference, but my intrigue is up.

Melissa said...

Wow Mike! This book sounds really good and since your wife liked it (and we seem to have similar tastes) :), I'd better check it out. Thanks!

abel said...

Thanks for the interview, Mike. I'm honored that my only male reviewer on the tour liked it. I promise my next book will put hair on your chest. ;-)

Tristi Pinkston said...

Great review -- and I like your interview style, Murph! I will be back.

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