Mara K Eton’s “The Hypocrites: A Novel in Short Stories”
Product link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1626526664
Full disclosure! Mara Eton commented on an early post here on Pot Fiction, which led me over to her book. This is her first novel.
Told through a handful of not-always-linear short stories, the timeline of Hypocrites encompasses dramatic events, their background, and the messy fallout. Central to the story is a marijuana recovery support group full of habitual and unapologetic smokers, hence the title. Following from that is a dive into politics of the drug trade, so I’m fairly calling it “pot fiction”. But the human drama clings to you long after you put the book down. That’s why I write this blog: love of the herb forms a common interest, but the real beating heart of the story is personal.
I’m very glad that this novel crossed my desk. Characterization is at the forefront here. Every story gets its own voice, which as a writer, I appreciate as a technical achievement. Crisis reveals very real flaws and provokes misunderstandings.No character goes through the events of the story unscathed. I found myself annoyed with people long after their part of the story was done.
But none of the characters are entirely unsympathetic, either. With the perspective the reader gains from multiple POV’s, everyone’s actions are in context. Annoyance miraculously morphed into empathy. How neat is that? Through the peculiar style, Eton’s story teaches a lesson in humility and compassion. Weed acts as a salve for pain accrued as the lives and livelihoods of our characters are pulverized by the reckless actions of a few. You do get a firsthand seat when things go downhill. However, as exciting as the events in the perhaps-fictional Hempstead became, I also got a kick out of the far flung stories in the latter half of the book. Penn and Mya’s stories were the most enjoyable for me, but I think you’ll end up with your own favorite characters and story lines.
I’ve thought about the characters several times after reading, and I’ve cracked the book back open to cross reference. Hypocrites was that good. It’s a nice, easy read, not too short, not too long, and with enough characters to keep you interested. There’s a fun, mystical twist in there too, if you pay attention.
I’m giving this a bong hits to the brain, because it has stuck with me long after reading. Give it a try!