First novel tells dark, vivid, compelling story

By Paige Terneur
PaigeTerneur@yahoo.com

Socket
By David Zimmerman
ISBN 1-895636-42-6
Anvil Press, 2002
$8.95 US ($11.95 CDN)

Writing the kind of novel that has the reader in its hold after the first sentence isn't easy. You'd think that writing it in three days is impossible. But David Zimmerman did just that with Socket, his first novel, and the winning entry in last year's 3-Day Novel Contest*.

The story unfolds like a slow-motion train wreck - a wrenching of steel and flesh that forces you to look when you want to turn away.

Set in Ethiopia during 1999, it's the story of Ronald Percy, an international aid worker who has just arrived from Savannah, Georgia to assist with an irrigation project for the Africa Development Organization.

But it all goes horribly wrong. You know from the first sentence that it's going to go badly for Ronald. But you can't look away. So complete is the reader's sympathy for the character that you want to believe, as he does, that it's all just a misunderstanding.

If it were a movie, viewers would be yelling at the screen, "No! Don't go to the police! Go to the US Embassy!" But it's a book. All you can do is keep hoping and keep reading as Ronald Percy sinks deeper into trouble on every page.

This book isn't for the delicate reader. There are parts that force your eyes shut. But the story is so compelling, the characters so real, the language so vivid that you force them back open and keep hoping, keep reading.

With each development, you think, "This is the worst it can get." On the next page, you find out it isn't. This is Nazi death camp transported to blistering desert. This is hell. Worse than hell.

As you read, you remember that this was written in three days. You hope it gets magically tied up with a happy-ending ribbon. It doesn't.

To say this was a book I couldn't put down would be a dreadful cliché. It would also be true. I had deadlines to make, dishes to wash, and errands to run. Nothing got done until I finished reading.

You can order Socket on the publisher's website www.anvilpress.com or you can ask your local bookstore to order it. Either way, my advice is to order more than one copy, because you'll either give or lend yours to a friend and never get it back.

*The 25th annual 3-Day Novel Contest takes place from August 31 to September 2, 2002. You'll find more info on the contest, and on its past winners at www.anvilpress.com


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