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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Review: The Cost of Dreams by Gary Stelzer

The Cost of Dreams by Gary Stelzer
Genre: Adult Fiction
Release Date: Available Now
Publisher: Decent Hearts Press
Pages: 296
Received From: Publicist

Summary: Flora Enriquez trusts that she has found safe haven for her young family in the remote U.S. Southwest, after fleeing the murderous environs of Central America where her parents were slain in a civil war. Only to find that all of her life's greatest challenges, by far, still lie before her.

My Review: The Cost of Dreams is a captivating and fast-paced novel. I don't really read these type of books but, I'm glad I did. Gary's writing was well-written which helped the story come to life. I really loved Flora's character, she was one tough cookie! Her determination and strength was impressive during the hardships she faced. If I was in her shoes I'd probably would have given up, but she kept on going. I feel like her story is the voice of many immigrants who flee their country to come to American soil for a better life. However, sometimes new battles occur when you reach an unfamiliar country. I enjoyed the journey I went through with Flora, every emotion she felt, I was right there with her. This book isn't in the Young Adult genre like most of my reviews, but I recommend this book for readers who are looking for an intense read that won't disappoint. Also, don't forget to check out the interview with Gary below!

My Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Author Interview:

Gary Stelzer is a retired physician residing in the northern Midwestern U.S. with his family. The Cost of Dreams is the first of five novels to which Decent Hearts Press is committed.

For more info on Gary, visit his site:

1) How old were you when you started writing? As a teen, I wrote a few skits and short plays. Then I married, began a family, and entered medical school, the sum of which seemed to preclude the necessary time to sit for writing sessions. Until some years into my physician’s practice career, I began to write a few short stories. I finished THE COST OF DREAMS about 18 months before my retirement summer 2007. In reality, I am a latecomer to a writing career.

2) What inspired you to write The Cost of Dreams? Perhaps less “inspiration” than necessity. I think my brain could assimilate a limited number of powerful life dramas, ones that I’d heard from both my patients and collected in my travels. Until I found that I needed to come to terms with at least some of them. The most direct method for me: begin writing tales that reflected certain realities human beings on the planet struggle with for survival. Narratives bearing an important relationship to what I’d heard in my work life.

3) Are the characters in the books based on someone you know? As aforementioned, yes (and also noted in “Back Stories” at my blog). A number of years ago, a young foreign-born woman appeared in my emergency department of the small city hospital where I worked for almost 30 years. She had been shot by her brother-in-law in the neck and face at their southwestern US home over a cocaine conflict and driven to the northern Midwest by her husband with their two young children in the family van. She was dreadfully sick and disabled from inadequate treatment and lack of proper follow-up attention. We attended her medical and surgical needs for many months, while she attempted recovery in a nursing home. In the grind of her travails, her husband abandoned them all. I always felt very badly for her and the young ones. Then one winter, I sat outside my sister-in-law’s home in southern NM and watched several freight trains criss-cross the desert valley on the line from Houston to Los Angeles, and I thought, “what if…” Then I came home and began writing.

4) What was the hardest part about writing The Cost of Dreams? Finding the time. I was working full time as a small city physician, so allocating the half-days to actually make page-writing progress was very difficult. But, I knew I was preparing to depart the medical practice, and I very badly wanted something to which I was going to re-direct my working energies. I had wanted to save out a few of my best functioning years left on this planet to tell a few tales, and I was pretty motivated. Fortunately, I am very drawn to the work of writing. I have never dreaded the sit down work sessions.

5) If you had to describe your book in one word, what would it be and why? Struggle. And a reader would not venture very far into the work before acknowledging the “struggle” for survival engaged in by more than one of the story’s participants. And I do feel a genuine compassion for the travails of immigrants from all over the world, on the move here and to other developed countries for little more than the crime of hunger. I really do detest the European and North American anti-immigrant xenophobic poison flung into the air day and night by politicians. As a diversion to disorient their citizens from problems the rulers decline to solve humanely at home.

6) Do you have any other projects you're currently working on? I am doing background reading for a book about another struggle- for-survival tale, to be set in New Orleans during the time of Katrina.

7) What books are you currently reading? Fiction: ORDINARY LOVE and GOOD WILL by Jane Smiley(absolutely staggering in their power as two novellas in one volume), a reread of LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner & Melville’s BILLY BUDD. Nonfiction: RISING TIDE by John M. Barry, THE GREAT DELUGE by Douglas Brinkley, and LIGHTNESS OF BEING: MASS, ETHER, AND THE UNIFICATION OF FORCES by Frank Wilczek.

8) Do you have anything to say to all your readers? Thank you very much for your interest in my work, and your continued interest in reading books. I am committed to writing the very best tales that I am capable of, in an attempt to deepen the understanding of important individual and social relations.

9) Tell us something about yourself that no one knows about. - Despite what my first novel might indicate to some readers, I am actually optimistic about the prospects for humane social advancement of humankind on earth. Not without some very painful travail, struggle, and discord. But I am optimistic about some very badly needed transformations that I really think we’re going to make. Honestly and seriously, I am an optimist.


Emma Michaels said...

Great interview!

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

A very emotional read but I liked it. Excellent interview!

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