The Importance of Good Roots
Richard M. Grove
Author: Richard M. Grove
Title: The Importance of Good Roots
ISBN: 978-1-897475-97-3 = 9781897475973
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The Importance of Good Roots is a fine collection of short stories and poetry with the feature, 8 chapter story titled, The Importance of Good Roots. These thoughtprovoking stories are about survival and the ties of family and friends and the sometimes not so deep roots that bind people together.
Dip into this collection of short stories, a novella, and a few poems. Feel the sun on your face while you walk through the complex lives of different characters. Here are people who have had terrible things done to them, but come out of their past forgiving and loving. The Importance of Good Roots is a book for readers who have come through the tunnel of darkness. These are rich, deep stories and poems that celebrate life. A wonderful sequel to Grove’s book, Psycho Babble and the Consternations of Life.
Richard M. (Tai) Grove’s collection of short stories and poems, encapsulates both image and imagination. Some of the writing within contains analogy pointing to the parallels of the seeming differences between things and of how those lines meld and melt. The novella at the book’s end is captivating, philosophical and metaphorical.
poet, editor, writer, spoken word radio host,
author of three books of poetry.
This is a delightful book. Rather unusual in that it presents the reader with poetry, short stories and a novella under the one beautifully designed cover. By the time I had finished this gem I had almost forgotten about computers, cell phones and the incessant invasion of twenty first century hype. Not that the offerings in this book are old fashioned or set in an earlier period, far from it, more that they concentrate and explore timeless themes.
The Importance of Good Roots is a calm, peaceful read concerned with people’s lives, how they love, feel, are hurt by others and how they can forgive others, even after being unwilling victims. Grove has woven very serious emotional themes together with deep philosophical insights to produce an excellent work of fiction. He insists that the works in this book are indeed ninety nine percent fiction. This maybe so but it cannot be denied Grove has a more than casual interest in suicide, death and cemeteries. “One story revolves around a two person, post-funeral conversation about a recently deceased friend and the motivations that propelled his life. The reader is left with the ambiguity of whether or not the deceased character committed suicide.” (p. xiii) Having said that I must add there is nothing macabre or pathological about these subjects as Grove writes about them. Actually some of the pieces in the book reflect Grove’s rather quirky sense of humour – you’ll have a good laugh and shed a tear almost at the same time!
Years ago my writing teacher taught me to leave personal philosophies out of fiction writing. People want a good read not a lecture from a writer on a soap-box he insisted. Grove’s greatest achievement in this book, in my opinion, is to combine the philosophical aspects of forgiveness, the fallibility of our memories and implications of suicide to make a wonderful fictional read without the reader feeling like they are being lectured and sold a “holier than thou’ package on how they should live their lives. To be able to do this is the mark of a great writer, to produce the artless art of fiction. Grove does this remarkably well.
This well crafted collection has a preface, a dozen poems, a couple of short stories and the novella itself The Importance of Good Roots, which is followed by a brief biographical page. Richard Grove, Tai to his friends, was born in Ontario, Canada and is an artist, writer, photographer and publisher. He is President of the Canada Cuba Literary Alliance and Founding President of the Brighton Arts Council.
I’m not going to discuss the stories or poems in any detail in this short review as I do not want to give away any of the sometimes surprising endings. Suffice to tempt the prospective reader with a few lines that I find exquisite, The freshness of June wafted in the trees. Numb banality hung like a heavy humidity on a hot August afternoon. From Chapter 2, Don’t Let Go of The Pole.
Or from the poem, The Chosen One
You are the chosen one.
Life drains from
your still pulsing neck
into dinted tin pan
splashed to thin black pigs.
Hot life to squeals of delight.
Themes of life and death are never far from Grove’s penetrating pen and insight, such as in the short story, What Could Have Been What Might Have Been. This story taps into an almost universal collective unconscious regarding the theme “would have, should have, could have”. Holy crappers Mark, let’s cool it. We’re both a bit edgy considering what just brought us here after all this time. I’m pretty flipped out about Billy being dead too. Heck Billy was like a brother to both of us. As Billy would have said, “Time to chill man”.
I thoroughly recommend this rather eccentric, combined- genre-work, particularly if you like to chill-out with a good fictional read.
Reviewed by Rob Harle
Writer, Editor, Reviewer
Here is a collection of poems, short fiction and a novella. Most of the poems celebrate the beauty of nature in an adult and detailed way. Grove’s poetry is accessible, beautifully crafted and memorable. The images and words stay with the reader.
In Cemetery Walk we are walking through a cemetery, surrounded by decay and death, but at the same time there is the fullness of life and time filled with love.
Leaves under November foot
crunch as I meander, camera poised
through a century of listing slabs
pitted white granite,
Again in Haley’s Comet, he examines the passing of time and how man lives with the knowledge that he will die. The celebration of life balancing the certain knowledge of death and the past full of pain, is a recurring theme.
If I see you before I am one-hundred and nine
it may be because I have joined
with you, at one with the solar system.
Maybe my coma of dust and gas will match
your hundreds of thousands of miles of
sun lit glory as we dash around mother sun
in forever orbit.
It is the novella, ‘The Importance of Good Roots’, which is the core of this collection, exploring the life of a child who was cruelly abused, yet grows into an adult with compassion and love in his heart. The adult meets his abuser and does not tell him who he is, but helps him and sends him on his way. It is tightly written and uses the novella form to perfection. He acknowledges the past, embraces it and used it to become a good person.
The writing is tight and detailed. We get to know the two men in this novella and also the horribly abused mother of one of the men. Even the grandmother, who is a monster, is given dignity in her own way.
There is playfulness in many of the short stories. They leave the reader feeling that the
day will be good and that there is hope.
A well-balanced collection, good for dipping into or to digest in a single sitting. There is a rhythm and wave in the collection that tempts a single sitting read.
editor, writer and teacher,
has four collections of poetry and short stories
The Importance of Good Roots, by Richard M. Grove, is an eclectic collection of poems, short stories and a novella that anchors the collection and also provides the book’s title.
The author has a gift for interesting metaphors and colourful imagery, describing subway riders in the poem 5;20 p.m. Toronto as “captured trout in a can.” In Woodstock Invation he writes about seeing an approaching flock of flying geese. “. . . a distant black undulating V/ stitching grey quiet sky/fifty Canadian Geese slowly swelling towards us.”
A theme of family love seems to weave together many of the pieces in this book. I particularly liked A Journey into the Dark, a tender poem about a 15 year old boy revealing the stars in the night sky to his little brother for the first time.
The short story The Grey Dog in the Parking Lot in The Twilight Zone is a clever piece of writing about a driver who seems destined one night to make the same wrong turn at a country intersection over and over again, observed by a “Norwood neon-flickered grey dog” in the parking lot of a coffee shop.
The novella The Importance of Good Roots is a poignant story of family and forgiveness. A young man spends most of his life in a disfunctional family raised by an abusive grandmother. His single mother had taken her life, a product of her own upbringing. The author does not, however, leave us without hope in the end Because of his ability to forgive, there is a brighter future for the young man.
Peggy Dymond Leavey, author