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Detailed Book Review
   
   
   
Gulf         
Gulf
By Brock Adams
ISBN: 978-1-929763-44-3
Price: $14.95
Shipping: $4.00
        
Nominated for the PEN Faulkner Award.

The short story collection Gulf refers not only to the physical meaning of the word-- several of the stories take place on or near the Gulf of Mexico-- but also on the metaphysical meaning, focusing on the human ability-- or lack thereof-- to bridge the psychological gulfs, and to find emotional healing. Three major currents run through the lives of the characters in Gulf; difficulties in relationships, struggles with identity, and a sense of being haunted by the unexplained.

Gulf is also available as an ebook on Amazon.com for the Kindle.

        
Book Review Details:
        
Reviewed Appeared In: News Herald (Panama City, FL)
Reviewed By: Shannon Winslow-Claunch
Text Of Review:
Local writer publishes “Gulf” and “Campbell’s Soup"

When Brock Adams, 27, was growing up in Panama City he played in the sand, he water skied and went sailing. He also gathered the contents to fill “Gulf,” his own metaphoric void of self-discovery and coincidentally the title of his first published novel.

Adams took an interest in writing while major shopping in college. He found his bliss in creative writing, and although he was proficient at some of his other pursuits, ultimately he became a writer.

“I realized I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing something I didn’t enjoy,” Adams said.

The joy he found in writing fiction developed into a need to share his ideas with others. While developing his master’s thesis at the University of Central Florida, he wrote short stories and submitted them to hundreds of publishing firms.

As hundreds of aspiring authors gather this weekend for Books Alive at Gulf Coast Community College it seems ironic that Brock Adams could get published by accident. In truth, two very different routes led to Adams becoming a published writer. The first was through dogged determination but the latter was rather serendipitous, Adams admitted.

In 2007, Eureka Literary Magazine published one of his stories. He continued to submit manuscripts.

“Over ’07 and ’08 I probably submitted at leat 300 copies of different stories to hundreds of literary journals. For every 100 that were submitted, I got 98 denial letters,” Adams said. “If you are not ready to get rejected all the time, you aren’t ready to start the process.”

Dr. Milinda Jay Stephenson, director of PC Writes, the FSU-Panama City writers’ workshop series, said the Internet has completely changed the way authors get discovered.

“It’s a double-edged sword, in fact,” she said. “Writers have become a public commodity and everyone has the opportunity to put work on the Web.”

That’s good news for writers struggling to get their work published, but in the plethora of aspiring authors, it’s hard to stick out.

Stephenson said, “If you are putting your work out there, it better be your best because publishers may be judging you by that piece.”

Many random stories of Adams’ were published online and in print. Then in 2009, he started sending his stories out in a whole set to small presses. Writers are becoming more visible because of Skype, Facebook, and Twitter and other social networking mediums. Adams took full advantage of this fact – and it paid off. Last year, just one week before his wedding, Pocol Press notified Adams they wanted to publish “Gulf.”

One week after returning from his honeymoon, Adams received word from an Italian publishing firm he had never submitted a story to. Stephenson explained publishers have discovered they only have to Google a topic to find works to publish – it’s a cheap way to find good stories.

“The industry has certainly changed over the last 30 years,” she quipped.

David Martirina of Round Robin Press stumbled across Adams’ short story, “Things you can do with a can of Campbell’s soup,” and got hungry for more. The story would become the name of the Italian version – a title Italian consumers would embrace as tasty Americana.

Three major current run through the lives of the characters in “Gulf;” difficulties in relationships, struggles with identity, and a sense of being haunted by the unexplained. He said it’s all about understanding who you are relating to relationships. “You can look at these stories metaphorically or with magical realism depending on how you interpret them,” Adams said.

In his fictional short stories Adams strives to share his experiences.

“I have a million things going on my head – countless doubts and insecurities – that I know that everyone else experiences,” Adams said.

He said it is cathartic to get his ideas out of his head and onto paper; by creating characters that deliver a message about life. “I like to share my experiences with an audience, validating my fears are not weird, but rather part of some human experience.”

Adams always has been drawn to the short story, and believes the shorter, the better. His style leaves little room for other than the philosophical.

“I love a good story or a well-crafted character as much as the next person, but the stories that have the most to me are the ones that leave me thinking about life,” Adams said.

He considers his favorite stories mirrors – a way of seeing himself in other character.

Adams said, “It certainly feels good to say that I am a professional writer but I’m a long way from quitting my day job.”

Adams and his wife are English professors at University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg. And while it’s rewarding to finally see the results of his publishing labors, the couple is seeking new life experiences and new things to write about.

Through the Peace Corps or another international charitable organization, the couple wants to teach English in a Third World Country. “Teaching English abroad is different from the university setting,” Adams said. “College students sometimes act entitled to be at college. To someone struggling to better themselves in an impoverished country, English can change their life and they really want to learn.”

To purchase a copy of “Gulf,” go to www.pocolpress.com.
Date Reviewed: February 4, 2010
Link To Web Site:    
Author Appearances: June 13- Bay County Public Library, Panama City, FL.
Contact Author: Email Author

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