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Review 5: OH Brother

OH Brother
by Paul Ciccone Jr.
Copyright: © 2008
172 pages
$3.79 E-book
$10.99 Paperback
Chapter 1 of Paul Ciccone’s book is entitled “Believe It or Not,” which were my words exactly as I began reading his book for this review. I could NOT believe the tight cogent prose this author has penned! Believe it or not, I almost felt a bit under educated to even be reading this. Ciccone’s writing reads like a fine college thesis, but he has the aptitude to write theory or psychology textbooks, even speeches, for a living if he wanted to.
Chapter 1 alone almost made me feel like I was reading a textbook, but possibly a requirement for one of those surprising electives that you expect to just stumble through but find yourself being turned on to a whole new subject matter instead. I couldn’t put it down! Here are some of the words I wrote down in the margins as I continuously underlined quote after quote…essay, journalist, man, existence, sociology, psychology, theory… Sounds boring to you perhaps? Not quite. Ciccone is a genius writer and my sideline thoughts on his stories have barely touched the surface.
Undeniably, man is the dominant life form on earth, and the ugly truth is that he alone, endowed with an infinite ability to imagine can be the maker of dreams-however, when united as a civilized society he emerges the destroyer of them.
One of my few qualms with Ciccone’s writing (and there were very few) would be his thesis-like introductions to some of the fictional components. For instance, the first paragraph of a great piece called “Neither Here nor There” is the author explaining to the reader that they are about to read a fictional story “from the archive of my minds memory and not endorsed through imagination.” When reading this I was quickly reminded of Floyd M. Orr’s “Nonfiction in a fictional style” mode of writing. The author goes on to tell a beautiful and poetic story about the last moments of a baby in the womb before literally being thrust into the world. His introduction steals from the real theme of the story and makes it read more like a dissertation.
Looking back at my copy now, I found myself underlining or circling a quote on almost every page. Like I said before, this guy would be an excellent speech writer. Heck, he could sell some of this book as a self-help book or motivational piece. His words were so true and beautifully written that I consulted by book of Bartlett’s quotations to make sure I had not read them somewhere before. Although there are two many quotes to list, here are a few of my favorites…
Let not memory hold dear the quantity of your accomplishments; instead let their worth be measured by the manner in which you achieved them.
Definitely a message we’ve heard before, but Ciccone has given it a new take.
On being a parent…
Be pleased and smile as you watch the faltering of once tiny wings spread wide to catch the wind of fate as it scurries them off to the place destiny meant them to be!
Wow! Now that’s poetry.
Words on the complexity of life…
The unexpected in life is conspicuously obvious, often it’s even consider the norm, and this dirty, untidy, disorderly part of living is what validates the fact “life is messy!”
Okay, I know what you are thinking. This man should write fortune cookies!
On that note, here’s another…
Don’t be trapped by the dogma of living life within the expectations of other people’s thinking and don’t let the noise of their opinions drown out your inner voice!
The author spends much of the beginning of the book giving you lots of complex opinions on a variety of subjects to think about, but he truly starts to reveal himself in a piece called “A Glimpse Back.” Here he recalls a list of memories of people and places that left a distinct impression on his life…a trip to the beach, a fourth birthday. By the time I reached this particular chapter, I had already put the book down twice just to give myself a small break from the overwhelmingly intense, but inspirational, words of this author. So, in reading this part, it was very nice to discover who this writer really is as he reveals some of his private thoughts.
Upon completing this read, I emailed Mr. Ciccone to ask a few questions. To date, I have not yet received his reply, but would still be interested in hearing his responses. I asked what he did for a living, as this man certainly has a talent for creating some wonderful prose. I also asked what inspired him to write this book. Perhaps, he will enlighten us here by replying to the review.
OH Brother is, once again, another POD book that certainly disproves the bad opinions some may have on the self-publishing world. Paul Ciccone, in my mind, is a brilliant writer that I hope many will look into after reading this. If you enjoy a good debate on the essence and quality of life, or just need some pick-me-up motivational words from someone who isn’t trying to sell you them in an infomercial, or maybe you enjoy hearing someone else’s outlook on this great big complex world, then buy this book.

10 Responses

  1. I’m really impressed by your continual ability to find quality among POD books. These last two have been more impressive than any others I’ve seen.

    And well done to the author.

    Thanks, Will! I have to admit I’ve been impressed too. There have really been some great books that deserve the exposure, yours included. The next book I’m reviewing is yet another great POD book as well. Thanks for reading and supporting the site. -LLBR

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  2. Gentlemen, I would like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all concerned in reviewing “OH Brother”. It, being my first published ‘book’ left me filled with doubts as to how it would fare. Your review, has left me with feelings of flattery and encouragement-more than anything else. You have, without doubt , read the book and I do so appreciate that fact. I also found myself awed at the accuracy with which you kindly expressed both the good and bad about it. Please accept my heartfelt appreciation for everything. Thank you again…Paul Jr

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  3. It’s true – this book is truly an inspiration to us all. Reading Shannon’s review, I have to say that he’s dead on with much of what he says. In particular you have to agree with the sheer amount of inspirational quotes…you could go through the book and simply create a book of quotes based on that!

    Plus it’s very interesting how closely Ciccone’s “experiential” perspective on development and growth closely mimics many of the standard psychological perspectives…like Allport, Piaget, Maslow and others…however, they are wrapped and bundled into a comprehensive overview…with a new twist.

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  4. Shannon, your review of OH Brother enticed my curiosity so, that I clicked on the link and continued to the preview . Then, I bought a copy! I couldn’t put it down either. Your review hit the nail smack, dead on the head and I agree…this author has talent. My congratulations on your obvious skills for finding new talent.

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  5. The first paragraph of Shannon’s review said it all.
    “Believe It or Not” – this POD author has an unusual and very distinctive style of writing that should make some of today’s more popular big name publishers stand up and take notice. There is no question in my mind that he ‘has a way with words’.

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  6. Shannon, thank you for including me in your list, along with Entrekin and Kerry, of outstanding Lulu authors. I am flattered and feel it an honor to be named along side such talent.
    Sincerely, Paul

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  7. It is with deep pride that I remark about this book from brother Paul Jr. and I should say that he has made many comments which should all be bound together in another book. He is truly talented and you have no idea on some his written and expressed thoughts which he so generously gives to members of his family on his website. Congrulations brother!!

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  8. OH Brother is a most unusual piece of prose. Mr Ciccone’s poetic style is certainly different, exciting the reader into a state of personal recall and elevated thinking that’s both pleasurable and controversial .
    The author does not preach any particular religion, doctrine, or guru. His only apparent motive is to show us that the way to self contentment lies within us.
    Roberta

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  9. Ciccone is an authentic New England voice, and he’s current and critical. In chapters like “Nature’s Way” he queries our common future and shared responsibilities. His writing intermixes poetry, philosophy, the honoring of nature, and spiritual intelligence. He does not limit the work in term of genre—for here is memoir, poetry, essays, and a coming of age story; there are stories within stories, framed through the lens of one man’s reflection on his life so far.
    As you might savor the lines of Frost or Thoreau, you can return to “Oh Brother” and find something valuable. I gain something each time I pick it up, be it a nugget of wisdom or some wit and charm to bring a smile to my face.
    “Oh Brother” can be appreciated by anyone who has a deep respect for the past. This is at once a reflective and nostalgic work with a heartfelt concern for future generations. Fundamentally moving is Ciccone’s emphasis on “inner voice.” For this book is a humble and multifaceted tribute to his own life and to those of his loved ones, as well as a reminder of everyone’s ability to find their own “inner voice.” The book demonstrates his epigraph “words are mirrors to our thoughts” and illuminates Oliver Wendell Holmes’s claim: “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”

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  10. [...] first came across the writings of Paul Ciccone Jr. last year when I read and reviewed his book, OH Brother.  That review went on to become our top review of 2008 and Paul’s book was probably the most [...]

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