I just received Clarion’s Forward review of Hula Ville. Cheryl Hibbard writes, “Evan offers an unusually discerning and philosophical view of people and their idiosyncrasies in Hula Ville, a collection of perceptive stories that capture the very fine line between ‘normal’ and odd. This is a book about human behavior, above all else, and it is as delightfully unconventional as the people who inhabit its pages.”
Hibbard also writes, “An astute observer of the oddities of human behavior, he populates his stories with quirky characters who think, say, and do embarrassing things over the course of their lives, albeit often not the least bit embarrassed by them. Evan conveys a sense of his own self-conscious discomfort, however, and readers, too, may find themselves wondering just what some of these characters were thinking. Evan’s fascination of the human condition and the minutiae of daily life is clear and evident. Each of his stories reveals a careful scrutiny of human behavior, from the acceptably ‘normal’ to the purely bizarre, much of it difficult for even the characters themselves to explain. The people in his stories are a diverse crew. All Southern Californians, they differ from one tale to the next, ranging from teens to the elderly, male and female. Whether describing one specific character’s own ‘private hell’ or relating another’s peculiar anxieties, Evan examines the vagaries of human existence. Desperation, dissatisfaction, and eccentricities abound, always with a ‘what if?’ unasked in the background. ‘Would have, should have, could have’ situations present themselves at every turn, and his characters rarely have a firm grasp on the difference between success and failure. Some are outrageously funny in their foibles, others pathetic, but all reveal themselves to be ‘as flagrantly human as human can be,’ however surreal their circumstances. Evan writes well, and his tales often resemble character studies as much as short stories. Readers will easily recognize many of his characters, possibly as eccentric friends or family members. Certain themes carry through stories, particularly the unstoppable passage of time, the overwhelming burden of responsibility, and the weight of regret. Dreams and goals, and the relationship of one to the other—frequently a case of recognizing the ‘right place and time’—figure prominently, and the characters often fail miserably, albeit in familiar, all too human ways. Readers will want to slap or vehemently shake a few of them and compassionately hug some of the others—these characters all will elicit some sort of reaction.
Yesterday I received the Blue Ink review of Hula Ville. They seem to have enjoyed my collection of short stories. The review states, “The stories in Mark Evan’s collection Hula Ville and Other Short Stories are varied and diverse, but share a common subject: the average person making sense of everyday life. They are familiar yet fresh; humorous but also bittersweet, with sympathetic characters any reader might recognize. Some call to mind Raymond Carver’s realism or Tobias Wolff’s memoirs.” The review goes on to say that, “Most of the stories in Hula Ville strike just the right note…these stories are a pleasure to read and should appeal to a wide audience.”
I just received the Kirkus Indie review of Team Charlie. It begins, “Those voices in your head — are they symbionts or parasites? This disarming novel seeks answers.” The review goes on to summarize the story of, “Charlie Davis, a mild-mannered, middle-aged, divorced man who lives with several voices in his head.” The review states that, “Evan has a knack for set-piece ruminations such as Pluto’s disquisition on love and Kono the Hawaiian bartender’s reflections on pretense.” The review goes on to add that, “readers will eagerly help Charlie battle the voices and his loneliness. It’s hard to look away from these colorful characters running rampant in a lonely man’s mind.”
Clarion’s ForeWord review of Team Charlie is now in. Robin Edmunds writes that, “readers will not be disappointed when they follow Charlie’s journey in Mark Evan’s evocative and memorable book.” Edmunds goes on to write that, “readers will become invested in Charlie’s story,” and that, “twists and turns keep readers guessing about Charlie’s fate until the very end.” Further, Edmonds states that, “Evan’s writing is full of wit, humor, and pathos. The chattering dialogue between and among the distinct personalities in Charlie’s head is sometimes humorous. The details are evocative, and well-rounded characters abound.” I grew to love Charlie as I wrote this book, and I enjoyed writing his story. As Edmunds states, “Readers who enjoy stepping into another’s shoes and glimpsing the challenges that are faced will find Team Charlie a clever and sympathetic take on mental health.” Edmunds gives Team Charlie four stars out of five.
The Blue Ink review is in on Team Charlie. The book is described as a “well-plotted novel,” where, “Evan finds tenderness, irony, and sly wit in Charlie’s troubled journey.” Despite some qualms about the writing style, Blue Ink states that the content “makes the whole trip worthwhile.” I am pleased with this review, and they seem to have grasped the ending. “It turns out that the poor guy’s internal voices serve as unlikely friends and demons, and in the end that touchingly endangers his future.”