Paul's home on the web.
Unique in purpose, in that it's a hobby and not a business.
I started this out of a love for literature and my desire to share that love...not to profit by selling books.Since his awakening on that first day's dawn, man has searched for his identity. His thoughts have always been directed by the unknown, the supernatural and the wonders of defining eternity. Knowledge is man's greatest weapon. No enemy can survive the wrath of the warrior who chooses knowledge as his weapon. No fear could shadow his stance and no task be impossible.
OH Brother by Paul CicconeJr
OH Brother is a self analysis designed to share-to stimulate an improved understanding of self through rationalization. A look into self, penned with a touch of poetry, some literary theory and a goodly amount of individual philosophy that may just be that prescription one needs to help ease the pain of reality.
Review: OH Brother
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.
Review: The Old Man of Naukeag
I 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 talked about. Like Mick Rooney, Paul’s writing definitely commands your full attention and is one that you will want to take time to read and mull over, rather than rush through it.
I knew his next book, The Old Man of Naukeag, would be just as good. And indeed it is, if not better. Paul writes in a style that’s hard to describe and unlike anything the traditional market could ever bring you. If anyone ever needed a prime example of a polished self-published book and an author that isn’t afraid to take chances, then they should invest in a copy of either of Paul’s books.
I enjoy Paul’s writing because no matter what story he’s telling, there’s always some word gem hidden within the root of his theme that’s completely left up to the reader’s interpretation, phrases I’d find myself underlining or highlighting if I was reading a physical copy. Here’s one from the preface of the book that I’ve read over and over again and almost committed to memory:
We, each and every one of us, is purposed ultimately the same: to be born, to grow, to develop, to expand, to recreate, then finally to pass on—and all for one explicit reason, to express the potentialities within ourselves to the utmost of our ability…nothing more, nothing less.
Paul’s words of wisdom aren’t anything new or anything you probably haven’t heard before, but his stories build upon such matter-of-fact advice and the author just crafts it in such a way that you can’t help but take notice. It’s a nice mix of wisdom and advice that radiates with Paul’s love of both words and life. The book itself is a collection of short stories that reminds me of sitting down with an elder to hear tales of yesterday. Drawn from personal experiences, each story offers the reader a taste of a certain place and time one might not have experienced, along with that feeling of home and warmth that each of us draws from some place or time that is special to us in our own way.
“Naukeag’s Old Man,” the first short story, embraces location: Ashburnham, Massachusetts and a lakehouse with a view. The author takes you on a journey, almost like a hike through the country, describing each tree and mountain almost poetically. I love the way the author concentrates on each minute detail, giving his setting not just the importance it deserves in regards to its inhabitants, but also the personal touch of why it’s important to him. The setting and place of our lives shapes us, and Paul just reminds us to slow down from time to time and take note of it. Commit a leaf to memory or a sound. Focus on the seasons and how they change where we are. In a chapter about embracing the past, Paul reminds us those changes are inevitable, and we must adapt to the times and to our settings:
I wonder, is it really all that much different this time around, than it was last? I’m not so sure it is and I’m not so sure that it will be much different for the generations to come. In order to have any peace of mind in the numerous matters I cannot control, I found it necessary to accept a very different outlook on life than I had thirty years earlier. These days I take comfort in knowing that I am a better person than I thought myself to be…accepting whatever mistakes I made as contributing to personal growth. I know too, that living in this society means I have to learn to cope with the difficulties and conform to its methods (even when it hurts).
Paul rounds out the book with a collection of works based primarily on family and written by family called “Tutt’s Tales.” There’s a letter to Ma and a few memories of Pa. Paul himself shares a story about his fondness for an old tree. It reminded me of some of the trees I used to climb where I grew up. There’s a poem about the rain from Maria. And one story that really stuck out at me is called “The Memoirs of a Seven Year Old.” It’s an odd title in that we wouldn’t think a child at that age would have much to write about and call it their memoirs, but listening to a child’s memories through their eyes might just astound you:
I find a piece of white paper in Daddy’s glove compartment. The paper is folded in half. I unfold it and I read it. It is a poem that Daddy wrote. I never read one of Daddy’s poems, only this one. He wrote in black ink. I read it while Daddy is not in the car, but then I fold it back up and put it back where I found it. When Daddy gets back in the truck we drive home. I don’t think he knows that I read the poem on the folded paper. I wonder if he knows that he has a poem in his glove compartment.
Once again, Paul Ciccone, Jr. impresses us with a book that’s like spending time looking through an old photo album. We are given the opportunity to remember things we forgot. We are able to look at others, and at ourselves. and observe how we have changed. And our heart is given the chance to revisit the past…a place and a time of yesterday that each of us holds dear in some way.