Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review: "Seasons of Heaven & Hell" by Michael G. Stone

First Edition printed by PublishAmerica, 2005

This review can also be found on Goodreads and Amazon.
It is hard for me not to be biased in this review, as Michael is a close friend of mine.  I originally came across this book on Amazon, I read samples from it and was compelled to write him.  That is how our friendship began.  He sent me a personalized copy a few months back, a little treasure that I will keep safe and enjoy always.  The paperback version of this book is out-of-print, making this gift even more prized.  Nowadays, if you wish to seek this book out, you can find it for sale in Michael's Kindle store along with his other works.

Let me say first off that this was a fascinating read on many levels for me.  I will not go too much into depth on the similarities between the poems in this book and my own writing.  Hindsight and memories of my own past played upon my brain, much of it for the first time in years, as I found many passages that I could relate to.  The image that Michael creates for himself, as a poet and narrator, is one of a hopeless romantic, longing for the eternal love and devotion that we all dream about, while simultaneously getting lost in a dark haze of thoughts and emotions deeply rooted in pagan spirituality and an almost Burton-esque world of fantasy.  Even after being disappointed over and over again, his faith is strong that his "eternal bride" is out there, and continues his quixotic search for her.

My favorite poem in this is called "A Letter to My Future Forbidden and Eternal Love" (page 91), a declaration of pure love to a woman he hasn't met yet.  It is something every woman wishes to read from their beloved.  He lays his heart and desires bare in this book, it is hard not to fall in love with his words.  Other favorite poems of mine are "Space Travel," "The Wicked Daydream," "The Dangers of Reality," and of course "Seasons of Heaven and Hell."

That said, this is not without its faults and errors.  There is the occasional typo which is common among many self-published authors (myself included) that was no doubt missed after a lengthy editing process, and as a spelling freak I had trouble accepting the word "Gothick" in several poems.  However, none of this took away from the overall experience the book gives, which is that of an emotional roller coaster.  Upon reaching the end of this book, I felt as though I'd been on a journey that hadn't quite ended, and indeed it hasn't.  You can sense influences from Rimbaud, a touch of Jim Morrison here and example of the latter is found in "Ceilings of Thought" where the line "Where are the treasures that we were promised after life?" reminds me of the last lyric from Morrison's Ghost Song, "Where are the feasts we were promised?"  I thought it was a clever, though possibly unintentional, homage.

If you are interested in Michael's work, I suggest you start with this one.  You won't be disappointed.