Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guest Post: Richard Hebert

Okay, here is a fun guy, witty and sharp. I had the pleasure of meeting Richard at the annual Florida Writer's Association banquet. We shared a few laughs and talked shop (writers do that, ya know). So, I tell Richard that I write fiction, mostly fantasy. He tells me he writes metafiction.

What? What is that?

Oh, it's fiction that is aware of itself. As the kids say these days, "Mind=Blown". I must be living a sheltered life, I've never heard of it before that night. It sounds fascinating and I want to try it. In the meantime, here is Richard telling about his novel and a little about himself. 

MINDWARP, A Novella …And Other Strange Tales

A committee of muses sits about the living room of my brain, discussing matters of no great import. A motley group they are, having just finished their pizzas—one pepperoni, one vegetarian, one combo—hold the anchovies.
“Why in the world is he doing this?” asks the chair-muse, finger-flicking crumbs from her robe….

Thus begins a journey into the mind of a “deranged author” (it says so on the back cover!) and his collection of short fiction, MindWarp, a Novella…And Other Strange Tales. Kirkus Reviews, the self-described “World’s Toughest Book Critics,” described the novella and accompanying eight short stories by author Richard Hébert this way:

This scintillating collection…uses offbeat character studies to wrestle with snaky issues of identity and self-knowledge. Hébert’s loquacious, usually anonymous narrators are obsessed with penetrating the riddle of the people around them.

In “MindWarp,” a nameless writer battens for inspiration on Guy, a working-class barfly who is almost elemental in his beaten-down ordinariness. Things get complicated when Guy begins an affair with the feisty, appealing Yolanda; the couple pushes back against the writer’s determination to “warp” their reality into a fictional celebration of heroic failure—until the writer himself seems to become the unstable, increasingly desperate creation of his own story.

Quirky, opaque figures abound in other stories; “Ana, Always,” about a Yugoslavian youth’s efforts to fathom the tragic mystery of a middle-aged woman, is a meditation on family and exile; “Silence,” a somewhat affected tale about a guilt-burdened war veteran who acquiesces in his wife’s affair with an ex-comrade, finds power in the evanescent fracturing of its hero’s personality. Only in “Azazel,” a comic gem about a mythical desert herdsman who tends the world’s scapegoats until the powers that be decide he needs a ritzy California estate in which to receive humanity’s atonement, do we meet a man who thoroughly knows himself.

The author delights in mind games; the title novella is as much a commentary on the conundrums of fictional representation as it is a fiction. Fortunately, Hébert’s writerly conceits are rescued by the quality of his prose; his deadpan realism, mordant wit and acute powers of description ground his flights of abstraction in the soil of experience.

A beguiling blend of high-concept narrative and old-school literary chops.

Kirkus subsequently named the collection to its top 50 list of 2011 “Indie” books.
Hébert is a former award winning investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize nominee; a media relations manager and consultant; a nationally published magazine feature and documentary film writer, and world traveler. Many of his works of fiction, including the stories in MindWarp, were inspired by incidents encountered during his travels in Europe, Africa and North, Central and South America. He currently also writes a political blog – Richard’s Take – from his retirement home in St. Augustine, Florida.

His other published books include a memoir, Life Is Good; a novel, The Questing Beast, and Highways to Nowhere: The Politics of Urban Transportation

Mindwarp is available on Kindle:

It is also available in paperback, BN Nook, and directly from the publisher, Author House.

Signed copies are available directly from the author:

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