It is no secret that I simply put adore books, the only thing better than a book is that feeling you get after the last page is read…the book hang over. One of the journeys I get to take as an author is reading books done by others in my field and ‘discovering’ new voices. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes and letting my mind take its own spin on their written works. I especially have a soft spot for indie authors. Let me introduce to one of my favorites; Mark Lages and his Team Charlie…
Meet Mark Lages (that guy up there in the picture). He’s an indie author who never once considered going traditional, why would he? He has complete control over his children; Church of the Divine Duck, Andy Bloom, & My Remarkable Little Monkey (to name a few of those kids). Mark’s books are also anything but traditional…just look at how their described:
“Welcome to the extraordinary world of Mark Lages, a place where monkeys can talk, where Jesus has an older brother named Marvin, and where a sweet, unassuming grandmother suddenly bursts into a raging, car-tossing cousin of Godzilla. Often outlandish, yet also remarkably down to earth, Mark’s tales are always memorable, intelligent, and relentlessly entertaining. Mark’s stories aren’t for everyone. If you don’t like testing the waters of the outrageous, and if you don’t like seeing the status quo poked and prodded for the truth, you probably won’t become much of a Mark Lages fan. But if you like pushing at boundaries and seeing the real world explained and exposed in new ways, these stories might be just right for you…”
While, I will admit I haven’t read many of his novels I already have a favorite in Team Charlie. Team Charlie is the story of Charlie (obviously), who is never alone having a pirate, a priest, an ex-girlfriend, a planet, a hippy, and Bob all trying to talk over each other in his head. While this is a story about mental illness, it takes a viewpoint of Charlie and his voices in a way that I have never read before. Immediately, Mark catches your attention and gets you right in the feels in his introduction of Charlie; a middle aged man, once the pillar of his community now needing someone to attend to him 24 hours a day. When you meet Charlie it is through the voice of Charlie’s father, and it sounds as if he is talking to a child, not a forty-something year old man. It has a Catcher In The Rye feel, the same outpouring of protectiveness you have for Lennie, you’ll instantly feel for Charlie (yes, I am bias, out of all the voices in his head Charlie’s is my favorite).
You watch Charlie follow the voices, you listen to them protect him through death, upheaval, the streets of LA, jobs, women, and anything else that Charlie seems to stumble upon. In each scenario you instantly cheer for Charlie, or you get frustrated at how naïve he is, you find yourself actually agreeing with a voice or two, or wanting to argue with the others, and most of all you wonder how a man can fall so far from Grace and never once notice he’s literally sleeping on rock bottom.
There are a range of instant emotions that the author draws out of you in such a quick read. While one moment I was proud when Charlie found himself, I wanted to slap sense into his family (his children in particular). One minute I’m embarrassed at his innocence in normal day adventures, the next instant I’m saying wait a minute why is that even part of the story????? Throughout the entire book you wait, and wait, and wait, for Charlie to find his Julia. The one thing that can hold him all together, without the voices. But this isn’t that kind of story.
In the end, Charlie teaches us that loneliness is a very very powerful thing. The need to be wanted, or part of something (even if it’s of your own imagination) is vital to everything we are. And even though the ending for me was sad, two steps back for such a giant leap forward, my husband agrees with Charlie telling me he would have done the same exact thing.
I did enjoy the book, the views on life are spot on. But it’s the emotions these characters bring out in you that will keep you saying ‘one more chapter.’
Good job Mr. Lages!
If you want to join Team Charlie or any of the other stories (next in my pile is a tall tale of a talking monkey My Remarkable Little Monkey) you can visit Mark at http://www.marklages.com/ pick up one of his novels on Amazon or email the man himself at firstname.lastname@example.org
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