"It was all for nothing. There's nothing to say."
On his forty-fifth birthday, as his hostages dozed fitfully and state police prepared to take him by force, Nathan Huffnagle penned nine last words into a journal recounting a remarkable week's worth of events. Then he placed the cold steel circle of a shotgun barrel beneath his chin, gripped the trigger, and pulled. And his life began again.
Nathan had hoped to pay back one injustice with another, and tip the scales back to even. But so few of us have a real talent for havoc and vengeance and violence. And our cherished grievances and justifications rarely match up so neatly with the realities of our lives. Now, frustrated at every turn and pestered by a series of seemingly angelic visitors, Nathan makes a hospital-bed deal with Death-the Big Guy himself. Will he receive the release he desires? Or a new lease on life?
The end is always near, but it's never too late to live.
Infused with humor and sadness, restless longing and regret, flights of fantasy and the sheer damnable contrariness of real life, THE END IS NEAR is a tale of redemption like none you've read before.
|Publisher:||Ebb Press LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.81(d)|
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At the ripe middling age of forty-five, Nathan Huffnagle completed a body of work he termed to be his "suicide journal," and while his hostages slept on, he slid the muzzle of a rifle beneath his chin. Moments later, he pulled the trigger. To his dismay, instead of death, he was greeted by apparitions who pushed him to fill in the blanks that his journal left behind. Just who was Nathan Huffnagle, and why was he holding hostages in the stockroom of a small auto shop? Let us find out. When I first read the summary for this novel, I expected a new-age tale about rebirth. (Blame the line, "And his life began again.") Instead I found an adventure of a different sort, one that took place mostly in the musings and limited actions of a character stuck on his deathbed, half of his face lost to intentional gunfire. Although heavier than I anticipated, the novel truly struck a chord as Nathan's struggles, both internal and external, revealed something critical about the human condition: its need to interpret and understand. From bullying to stalking to childish pranks, his experiences and choices seemed almost familiar—not because I like to indulge in a little B&E after work, mind you, but because his bewilderment, his pain, and later, his jadedness, came across as a natural progression. His feelings, in short, felt genuine, which makes all the difference when reading the written works of an author who occasionally waxes pontifical. The book itself is a mishmash of suicide journal entries, present-day narrative, and penned "discussions" with the representatives of Death, as it were. Though initially confusing, I eventually grew accustomed to the shifts. Without the journal entries, present-day conversations would make little sense, and so the mixing of the two was a clever literary choice. In both cases, Ramble proves that his characters are able to get out of their own way in terms of word choice and the communication of ideas. The text gives a very clear sense of individual personalities, even if some of it made me question the sanity of the narrator. I'm certain that that was the point. The End Is Near certainly isn't the first book to address deathbed discoveries and bargains with the so-called Grim Reaper, but it is well worth reading if you like characterization and that elusive sense of transformation that comes from completing a thoughtfully written work. Hide and Read (Review copy provided by the author)
Book Title: The End is Near Author: Harry Ramble Publisher: Ebb Press, LLC ISBN: 9780981650227 Reviewed by Michele Tater for The Couch Tater Review Hope is a necessity for normal life and the major weapon against the suicide impulse. ~ Karl A. Menninger Nathan Huffnagle, a man in his forties, is just a plain unhappy person. He has never married, has no kids, and has the most boring of jobs. Nathan becomes sick and tired of this so-called life he has made for himself. After his mother dies he returns home to take care of business. Not just the depressing business of settling his mom's affairs, but finishing his, literally. Nathan has decided to end it all, because of the crappy hand life has dealt him, but after a time in the neighborhood tavern, he decides to take someone with him on his little death trip. Really what is driving his man to go to such a final solution to his problems? Could something in his past that seems to haunt him all his life be the reason? Is it really found in the journal he wants to leave behind for all to read? Instead of this book being a "who done it" I would call it a "how come" novel. How come this man has made the decisions he has made? Written in the first person this book, I found, to be full of emotion and feeling. This is especially felt in describing the shocking and sickening details of the many events of bullying that the main character had to endure. The author uses directness and boldness to get across the seriousness of how being belittled through someones life can affect a person, as they become damaged adults. The bullied sometimes become at odds with the ghosts of their past, as Nathan did in this story. Mr. Ramble is ingenious in allowing the reader get inside Nathan's head-to feel his pain and sadness; he took a complex situation and made it simpler to understand by expounding the details. I can not say enough on how truly great and eye opening this book was for me-highly recommended!
There are two kinds of books in the world: those that entertain, and those that teach you something. Okay, I lied, although I daresay many people believe this. A constant theme that keeps popping up in my reviews is that books intended to entertain can also teach us something - if we let them. Depending on the book, we might learn about history, science, politics, geography, or many other subjects, but most often it is about the human condition, whether helping us better understand ourselves or others. Calling a book like this entertaining seems wrong. On the surface, it is serious, grappling with questions of life and death. Yet it is still entertaining. There is the suspense of how and why Nathan concluded that death was preferable to life. There is the mystery of how the book will end. Humor, often dark humor, is scattered throughout the book. However, you can't read the description of this book without reasonably concluding that if there are only two kinds of books, this must be one that teaches you something. It does. Although I hope none of you are contemplating murder or suicide, I daresay Nathan's fictional experiences are best suited to teach you about yourself. Most of Nathan's many faults are those we all have, just not to the extremes that he does. When you're done reading "The End is Near," hold up the mirror and see if you can't learn something about personal responsibility and judging others, to name just two. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **
Cover-When I first received the book and saw the cover I wondered what in the world it had to do with the end being near. Then, I read the summary on the back and wondered if the items on the front cover were what Nathan took with him during his hostage situation. I'm not going to tell you if that was correct or not, but the items on the front do come into play in the book. Needless to say, I like the cover because it made me think and ponder over the meaning of it.-Plot-Right away, the book introduces the reader to hospital-bed Nathan. Then the reader meets pre-hostage situation Nathan. The reader then journeys back-and-forth between these two Nathans until hostage situation Nathan is introduced. From there, the reader gets to take a Scrambler-like ride (for those familiar with fair rides) between the three Nathans until the end of the book. You get comfortable heading in one Nathan-direction then get jerked back towards another Nathan-direction. While this sounds like a mind-bending situation, it actually promotes a feeling of intrigue and makes the reader want to know and read more.-Characters-Nathan is a sad, sad man. I cannot imagine holding the grudges he did. While I know that there are people out there that actually do hold these types of grudges, I still cannot imagine being able to do such a thing. Nathan comes from a broken, abusive home and is very unpopular in school and in life. I think it's safe to say Nathan had self-esteem issues. Randy was a bully growing up. This was his way of acting out his broken-home life. He grew up to be a pretty decent human being who regretted how he treated people in high school. Death is a person often talked about in this book, but not seen until the very end. When Death finally is revealed, it is in an unexpected form ... something no reader would expect.-Overall-I would recommend this smartly-written novel to those who enjoy a good hostage situation that has some unexpected twists and turns.