Thursday, April 27, 2006

Review: Steven by Marvin Curtis Reid

Review of “Steven”
Author: Marvin Curtis Reid
Publisher: iUniverse

Foreword: I’ve decided after reading this book that “street fiction” isn’t my genre of choice and that choice comes through loudly in my review. Please consider this and draw your own conclusions. ljh

I believe the subject matter of this book has been ignored much too long. I also felt a sense of ‘justice has been done’ in the ending. The ending was believable and carefully crafted. The short stories of other abused men that followed the ending should have been edited, but added credence to the basis for the story.

The remainder of the book is an “I’m telling you this!”, rather than a careful and credible showing of the events taking place, which all lead up to Steven’s near demise at the hands of a very troubled woman named Julie/Julia/Baby (although all the women he beds are indiscriminately called “Baby”). While Steven readily acknowledges his lack of sexual self-control—and his inability to take responsibility for ‘responsible and safe’ sex with women he supposedly cares about—there is entirely too much free gratis and graphic raw sex to keep the average reader interested in the real story, which this reviewer believes needs to be told, but could be told much better with some careful editing.

It reads more as a rabbit’s romp from hole to hole, culminating in—at least Steven must believe he is a stud extraordinaire— his nearly being killed for these earth-shattering-sex-capable-of-changing-the-earth’s-orbital-axis dalliances. This reviewer believes more than a few women readers, before getting to the end of this tale, would think Steven deserves to be shot for his indiscreet indiscretions.

There were numerous spelling, grammar, punctuation and other syntax errors that took away from the story. One character in Steven’s life, a co-worker, was brought into the story promising, at the very least, more backstory, but suddenly disappeared from the cast with no warning, reasoning, or satisfying explanation.

More ‘fleshing out’ of characters, plot, and places is needed—but please NO MORE SEX SCENES!

Sexploitation—5 stars
Plot—1 star
Character development—2 stars
Pacing—3 stars


Anonymous said...

Steven, by Marvin Curtis Reid was n an excellent story that highlighted an often disregarded aspect of a social crisis, Domestic Violence.

Steven reads as it should and the Genre is actually Fictional Memoir. Forgive my direct response but your critique of this work is marred with seeming personal bias with the exception of the minor grammatical errors.

This is clearly a self-published book and was done well. Your critique further acknowledges the true stories of the men that I found quite compelling. Domestic violence is indeed a scourge in this country and one that needs to be erradicated; however, to make the blanket statements you make is interesting, considering you do not take into account that Steven's story is not unlike those of his female counterparts.

By contrast, your review was exceptionally well-written but riddled with inconsistencies.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised when I read this because Marvin Reid is far from a "street fiction" writer. "Street Fiction" (as you term it) refers to a life far and away what he writes about. It is also interesting that you missed the entire point of the book. I guess you would've rather he write some dry, boring story about the subject of male domestic violence, and very few exist, none for African American males until this book hit the scene.

I am proud of the work he put into this book, it may have saved my brother's life as he was a victim until he found hope through STEVEN.

Granted, if author Reid was able to have a professional editor at his beck and call, who knows? But for me, STEVEN was easily the book of the year in my view.

Linda J. Hutchinson said...

I'd like to clear up a couple of points because of the comments I've received regarding this review.

Please note that my referring to this book as "Street Fiction" is directly due to Mr. Reid calling it that when he was the featured guest at The Writer's Chatroom. "Street Fiction" was the term used by Mr. Reid during the interview when asked what genre he felt his book fell into.

I clearly stated in my review that this genre wasn't on my list of favorites for reading material, but felt the subject matter was very important and had been ignored too long.

I also felt Mr. Reid had addressed the domestic violence issues well, but could have fleshed out the plot and character development better. That is part of the editing and polishing process for any author.

The first rule for being an author is to "write well". The second rule is "SHOW--don't tell".

Yes, this is a self-published book, but that shouldn't be the basis for a review. Unfortunately, like many others--both traditionally AND self-published--it wasn't adequately edited. Mr. Reid, as an educator, should have ensured that only his best and most polished work went to the printer. His demeanor was extremely professional and polished when he "appeared" at The Writer's Chatroom guest chat.

I will agree that Steven has the potential to save many lives, both male and female. Steven is a flawed character whom many can relate to. For this reason alone this book has the potential to be great. It just isn't there yet.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I just noticed this blog and would like to add my two cents, for what it's worth. I read Steven and found it to be quite compelling. For a self-published work it was actually quite good. Sure, the author may have used the term, "Street Fiction" but it's clearly far from that.

I've read lots of so-called street fiction and Steven is head and shoulders above, for sure. I do agree with the first poster that suggested that it could've been fleshed out more. Of course, but the bottom line is that the man put out a pretty decent product.

Audrey Shaffer said...

I read Steven too, and didn't think much of it. The topic is very timely, and I agree that there need to be more books out there about it. But they need to be better written.

I find it interesting that the anonymous posts say the that book is clearly self-published, but done well. That seems to be a contradiction in terms. It is clear that Steven was self-pubbed, precisely because it is so rough. If it was better-written, you wouldn't know that it was self-pubbed.

The story was lacking cohesion. The plot didn't move along smoothly. Sex scenes were thrown in helter-skelter. The characters were wooden, and not likeable. The book needed a good edit and a lot of polishing.

I have no problems with the topic of Steven. What I didn't like was the writing. And in a review, that needs to be pointed out. Readers will find less enjoyment in a book that isn't well written, no matter what the topic is.

(not anonymous)

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