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By Gary Beck
Black Rose Writing
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
I'll give him this, that author Gary Beck is certainly the most prolific writer I've come across in awhile -- like is the case with many writers on tiny presses, I somehow found myself this year on his busy mailing list despite never expressing an interest nor giving my permission, and I seemingly get an email every couple of weeks about a brand-new chapbook of stories or poems he's just released. But unfortunately the novel he chose to submit to CCLaP, the '90s tech startup saga Flawed Connections, displays nearly every single trait of mediocre small-press books that set my teeth on edge, including but not limited to: uninspiring characters that come straight out of Central Casting; stilted dialogue that sounds like poeple reading lines from cue cards instead of talking; playing fast and loose with basic facts about the times the book is set in (the idea that a person cuold do hardcore programming on a laptop in 1993, then maintain their central online repo through on-the-fly internet connections while backpacking across a pre-WiFi Europe, although theoretically possible is dubious at best); an especially egregious case here of "death by exposition," just pages and pages and pages of unnecessary backstory that read with all the excitement of a Wikipedia entry; and at a length that I'm estimating to be the same size as a Tolstoy novel, Beck is guilty of one of the most annoying crimes of all from small-press authors without decent editors, of grossly overestimating the tolerance his audience has for such a so-so story to begin with. An 'A' for ambition for sure, but unfortunately the execution of this tepid, criminally overlong novel leaves a whole lot to be desired.
Out of 10: 4.4