Cliff Hanger : Jump Before You Get Pushed" - Review and Conversation with Conversation with Oakley Talbott
Published in the "New Mexican
Everything he produces has an entertaining story with a deep and compelling underlying message. Which shows up, naturally, in his latest book, Cliff Hanger : Jump Before You Get Pushed. Dearest Readers, perhaps you joined the Jean Cocteau Cinema’s Virtual Author Event last January and you heard Michael discussing Cliff Hanger. The gist of the story is thus: In 2030, viruses, spy drones, terrorism and joblessness have eroded American optimism. People want something to believe in. As demonstrated in a Midwest high school election, politics have taken on the inflexibility and dogma of a new religion. Only true believers will survive and prosper. Or so they think.
There, Creampuffs, that should pique your interest. Michael is not only and author, he is also the father of two adult children, an avid high-altitude mountain trekker, and a collector of first editions of 20th-century fiction. But he is most famous in Santa Fe for his long business career in real estate, having been a partner with his wife, Pat French, in French & French Fine Properties, the prestigious boutique agency that is defunct but never forgotten. And now you know … the rest of the story.
So long, Sweetpeas. Until next time…
Mr. French's manner of story telling is unique and his writing masterful and precise. I feel I'm being mesmerized bass I read- if that can be possible - as if I'm watching a painting being made, brush strokes by brush stroke. His style is invisible, he is not standing between the reader and the story. And the story seems to materialize out of itself.
Mr. French's #1 talent as a writer is his way of generating living, breathing characters. I became aware of his flair for this about half way through the book. I had been reflecting upon what I had just read when I realized that I have a high definition image of the main character, Brit, and that I have no recollection of reading lengthy passages that describe her in such fine detail. My dawning was this: she was assembled by me from lots of little pieces, unrelated quirks, gestures, stray thoughts. Perhaps this is the same mechanism that we use when we come to "know" someone, that we form a composite from the bits and pieces of what we observe. Here we areaquainted with High School seniors in the process of sifting and solidifying the traits that will define their future roles. The readers are on a parallel course with that of the characters, we are aquiring an ever increasing detailed image of them as they gain deeper understanding of themselves. In one memorable scene, we become more familiar with Nathan through the eyes of Brit as she clandestinely surveys the contents of his bedroom through a closed window. His possessions help us to understand the diverse factors influencing his internal make up, subtle hints ,that become obvious with hindsight , of the ingredients that will flavor his unfolding personality disorders. Here, Mr. French's fluid manner of description is cinematic, successfully emulating that of Hitchcock in the opening scene of Rear Window.
Cliffhanger is a purely fun-to-read novel. We become witness to aspects of average American High School life coalesce into a promise of a greater future, one that they will play a part in designing.
Date: 01/10 Time: 4pm
Michael R. French discusses his latest book.
"Cliff HangerJump Before You Get Pushed"
n 2030, viruses, spy drones, terrorism, and joblessness have eroded American optimism. People want something to believe in. As demonstrated in a Midwest high school election, politics have taken on the inflexibility and dogma of a new religion. Only true believers will survive and prosper. Or so they think.
Pass the envelope. And the winner is…the voter.
Specifically, millions of new voters, many of whom were in their teens and twenties, stormed the barricades. The #neveragain and other movements of the last four years were great motivators. In my generation, most of us didn’t vote until our thirties, if then, finally figuring out that politics matter. So what was different this time? Metaphorically speaking, a lot of us of all ages and races felt that democracy had come down with COVID, and unless we voted, no one could be sure it would survive. The 65% voter turnout was, I believe, a record for an American presidential election. May the tree of democracy continue to grow. America used to be known principally for its military and economic might. Now, there is additional power to harvest for the world to see. One voice, one vote, to start the list.
In my modest new novel Cliffhanger, it’s 2030 and America is going through tough times again. An 18 year old young woman, running for political office, makes her voice singular, irresistible, and unsinkable in a sea of anger apathy. In history, so often it’s one person who makes the difference.
Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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