Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review: Beyond the Blue and the Gray by Tony Verna

by M. J. Joachim


It’s the sort of slapstick comedy that makes you shake your head when an author ventures into the realm of using history as a backdrop for such an unusual fictional story. A snapshot of day to day life rolls out while President Lincoln ends the Civil War, gets assassinated, put on public display and finally laid to rest. The Civil War, Lincoln, these were newsworthy events, sort of like us talking about the pros and cons of Obama at our kitchen table over coffee.

“Beyond” in the title means exactly that. This is the story about life taking place on the streets, rolling out across the country and even riding the high seas to Hawaii. Verna takes us on a journey of life, relationships, feelings and mischief. All sorts of mischief plays out in the story, things that make you scratch your head, laugh, cringe and shrug your shoulders.

Taken as a whole, the story is quite entertaining in an odd comedy sort of way. There were times I thought of Woody Allen, and his offbeat comedy style. There were other times when Mel Brooks came to mind. Beyond the Blue and the Gray is sort of crazy like that, charming, uncanny, a bit rude and politically incorrect at times.

It’s a good read if you like this sort of thing, one to take lightly and enjoy the sights and events as they happen. This isn’t a quick read, so be prepared to take your time. Remember, you’re traveling back in history and watching daily life unfold. Crime, murder, romance and magic all play a part, as characters live and die in these pages. There’s a main cast with more than a few supporting roles, some sticking around as the story continues to develop, while other make haste with cameo appearances.

Overall, I enjoyed Beyond the Blue and the Gray, and I’m glad the editor, Jim Bessey, sent me a copy. He had a personal relationship with Tony Verna, a man who struggled with leukemia and recently lost his battle. I was still reading the book when I received Jim’s tribute to him. May he rest in peace. May all his family and friends be consoled as they feel his loss.

Thanks so much for stopping by today,

M. J.

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