This from Harry Stone, who doesn't want his email shared:
My God, can this story get any more intense? How in hell can these two continue to function, much less appear normal? Are there no limits to their murdering, lying, incestuous misadventures?
And now you've got Carl convinced there are ghosts! Is he going insane? - - No, wait - - he's been insane all along, right?
As you've surely guessed by now, I didn't put the book down once I picked it up. That's right, over 600 pages overnight, no sleep, cover to cover and pissed at you for losing me a night's sleep, and wanting more. Is there more? There has to be more!
I've never read anything like this, and I've read a lot of strange stuff. Your writing is like a cross between Faulkner and Zane Grey. You mix humor with depravity, tragedy with romance, guilt with joy. You show us bucolic, peaceful heartland life and the utter blackness of pure evil, often on the same page. Your characters are so lifelike that I kept looking up expecting (hoping?) to see Helen, or Carrie, or Lanky Shanks, or the sheriff.
There has to be more to this story! And if there isn't, write!
Author's note: there is more. Straws 3 is being written.
Sir: I read your novel, Straws 2, last week. I took a couple days to think things over before I emailed you my thoughts. What you read below are not reactions, they are my honest critique.
Your writing style is so austere as to be almost undetectable. I found myself filling in all the blanks - the missing adjectives, the overly simple nouns, the nuances, the unstated obvious - with my own substitutes. At first this annoyed me, but the more I read, the more the story became my own. My life experiences, my knowledge, my own biases and secret thoughts fleshed out the story until I became submerged in it.
This novel is an experience, especially since I read the first novel (Straws, 1939 - 1940) before I read this one, so I had the whole grisly, rapturous story. It is not a book that one buys off the best-seller shelves and forgets a week after reading. This story will stay with me for decades.
Why haven't I heard of you through the usual channels like bookstores and so on? Are you hiding? Your writing is brilliant, even if the story is terribly disturbing. I'm most disturbed because I seem to understand Helen, and that is something I would never have believed possible.
I hope you will continue writing, and possibly bring closure to Carl and Helen in some way.
Your fan, Myra Ellis