Blood On The Tracks: The Life And Times Of S Brian Willson
We are not worth more, they are not worth less. This is the mantra of S. Brian Willson and the theme that runs throughout his compelling psycho-historical memoir. Willsons story begins in small-town, rural America, where he grew up as a Commie-hating, baseball-loving Baptist, moves through life-changing experiences in Viet Nam, Nicaragua and elsewhere, and culminates with his commitment to a localized, sustainable lifestyle.
In telling his story, Willson provides numerous examples of the types of personal, risk-taking, nonviolent actions he and others have taken in attempts to educate and effect political change: tax refusalwhich requires simplification of ones lifestyle fastingdone publicly in strategic political and/or therapeutic spiritual contexts and obstruction tacticsstrategically placing ones body in the way of business as usual. It was such actions that thrust Brian Willson into the public eye in the mid-80s, first as a participant in a high-profile, water-only Veterans Fast for Life against the Contra war being waged by his government in Nicaragua. Then, on a fateful day in September 1987, the world watched in horror as Willson was run over by a U.S. government munitions train during a nonviolent blocking action in which he expected to be removed from the tracks and arrested.
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Great Debut Looking Forward To More From This Author
I am very impressed with this debut novel by Barbara Nickless. I thought she did a superb job with this book and I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. This is another one of those who done it books that really keeps the reader/listener guessing right up to the very end. A woman is brutally murdered, she’s kind and helpful to the down and outers and the hobos who pass through hitching rides on the railroad. Some say she’s like an angel others say she’s a busybody getting involved with the wrong people. And then there’s her fiancé a badly burned Iraq veteran who is arrested for the crime. I could go on and describe the railroad police and the detective from the major crimes unit but you can read all that on the synopsis provided. What you won’t see there is that while the main story is playing out there are multiple subplots going on concurrently. Each of these subplots ties into the main story and each provides another suspect but don’t get too attached to anyone in particular because the ending will throw you for a loop. Emily Sutton-Smith gives an Excellent performance. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If you found this review helpful please indicate so. Thank You.
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Book Review: Blood On The Tracks: The Life And Times Of S Brian Willson
The Life and Times of S. Brian WillsonBy S. Brian WillsonPM Press, 2011, 536 pages, $20
On the evening of September 1, 1987, I walked into the living room of the home I shared with my then-husband, glanced at the television, and was horrified to see news footage of peace activist Brian Willson being run over by a weapons train at Concord Naval Weapons Station in California. I have never forgotten the lesson I learned that night, early in my activist career: that our government will go as far as to kill peace activists if it feels it necessary. Brians survival was due to the exact nature of his injuries and the presence of his then-partner Holley Rauen, a nurse-midwife who stopped him bleeding to death from his severed legs. The military ambulance on the scene refused to help Brian because he was just inches off government property when his battered body finally came to rest.
The simple Nicaraguan campesino life resonated with Brian, leading him to better understand and reject the materialistic American Way of Life, or AWOL, the military slang for absent without leave. He saw this way of life maintained by imperialism, which steals material wealth from poor people around the world and kills them when they object. He fasted to protest the Contra war on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with other veterans and blockaded trains carrying weapons.
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Purchase Options And Add
A man is lying face up on a red crushed-velvet chaise. His wide-open eyes stare at some unseen spot on the ceiling. He is wearing a pair of tight-fitting jeans, scuffed-up Spanish leather boots, and a matching Bolero vest. At first glance, one might mistake him for a vagabond, a vagrant, a drifter. He would have liked that. He always thought of himself as a traveling troubadour. But look closer. The lifeless man lying across the chaise is none other than superstar Bob Dorian.
HeÂd been hailed a poet, a prophet, and the voice of a generation. Dorian never wanted to be any of those things. The most famous rock star in the world always resented the attention. Of course, turning up dead attracts the most attention of all.
Suspects? Tons of them. TheyÂre all characters in DorianÂs songs, not to mention they all hold a grudge.
Intent on finding the killer, DorianÂs manager, Jack Frost, teams with Commissioner Tiresias and obituary writer Mister Johns to track down the true culprit and solve the mysterious murder.
And the answers they need may just be staring them in the face.
Blood On The Tracks By Barbara Nickless
By Jon Land
Writing and publishing a first novel kind of reminds me of the great line from Samuel Johnson about a dog walking on its hind legs: It is seldom done well, but you are surprised to see it being done at all.
Well, Barbara Nickless does it, and very well at that, in BLOOD ON THE TRACKS. Her debut thriller makes splendid use of both primary and secondary research in fashioning a well-executed tale that features a unique backdrop. Nicklesss style is reminiscent of Nevada Barr, but I also saw some traces of C.J. Box and even the late great Tony Hillerman.
Indeed, these days building your brand as a thriller writer means staking out a ground and making it your own. Thats what Nickless does in taking us into the little known world of railroad cops, and the kind of work they do beyond securing AMTRAK stations from potential terrorists. I sat down with Barbara recently to pick her brain about where the idea originated and how she assembled such diverse material into a coherent story.
I have to start with the whole notion of making your hero/heroine a railroad policeman. Could you tell us why you did and where you got the idea?
Plot wise, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS delves into the notion of a cultish band of killers, kind of like murderous hobos, who call the rails home. Thats actually based on fact, isnt it?
Youre a writer who likes to directly experience life with the kind of cop hero Sydney Parnell is. How have those experiences affected your writing?
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Wow What A Fantastic Book And Under $800
Wow! I was impressed by this book. I got it because: it takes place in Denver and because it has a dog in it, and because it has trains in it. I was surprised all the way around regarding the reasons I chose this book…and in other ways too.I am love trains. I’m not talking modern Amtrak trains but good old-fashioned passenger and freight trains. And I’ve been lucky enough throughout my life to ride on many different types of trains. This is a murder mystery that revolves around trains, or actually more around the people who run and use trains. I loved that part of this story.But I actually liked all the different pieces of this tale.A young woman who was known to be kind to hoboes is brutally murdered. And initial clues point to a war damaged Marine as being her killer.Senior Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell with the Denver Pacific Continental Railway starts in investigating this terrible murder along with her K9 partner, Belgian Malinois Clyde. Both Sydney Rose and Clyde served as Marines in Iraq and that is an integral part of this story, too.This book is different and that’s a good thing. It doesn’t fit any mold of police procedurals, mysteries, or thrillers that I’ve listened too. It is one of the best books I’ve listened to in 2016 – and that covers a lot of territory. I rarely give 5 stars but this book is one of those great books.I can’t wait for the next book in the series.Emily Sutton-Smith as always was brilliant with the delivery of the story.
Great Start For A First Time Author
Blood on the Tracks was my Kindle First selection last month so I had the opportunity to read the ebook before the October 1 release date. I was so impressed that I decided to listen to the audiobook also. This is an incredibly strong debut novel by Barbara Nicklass. The Sydney Rose Parnell series promises to be a favorite. Parnell is a 27 year old ex-Marine currently working as a special agent for the railway police in Denver. She and her K9 partner Clyde are both veterans of war in Iraq and both suffer from PTSD. This police thriller is superb. Emily Sutton-Smiths narration is excellent.
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Blood On The Tracks Season : The Brian Wilson Story
BLOOD ON THE TRACKS is part true crime, part historical fiction, and part spoken word lo-fi beat noir brought to you by Jake Brennan, host of the award-winning music and true crime podcast DISGRACELAND.
About the show
In 1966, Brian Wilson planned to follow up the Beach Boys’ groundbreaking album Pet Sounds with an even bigger musical statement. He was writing a teenage symphony to God. That album, Smile, was never finished. Instead, Brian slowly unraveled, as the pressure to make something profound weighed heavy on him. He worried that he wasnt good enough. He worried that he was a failure in the eyes of the record company, his band, his peers, and his own father. He thought his house was bugged. He thought the music he was making conjured some strange voodoo that had a disastrous impact on the real world. He became paranoid. He self-medicated with amphetamines, hash, and LSD. He held meetings in his swimming pool. He imagined people who werent there. And eventually, in 1967, he went off the proverbial deep end. Did the real Brian Wilson ever resurface? Part true crime, part historical fiction, part spoken word lo-fi beat noir brought to you by Jake Brennan, and featuring the fictionalized voice Brian Wilson, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS sounds like nothing youve heard before. Because you cant push the needle into the red without leaving a little blood on the tracks.
Critical Reception And Legacy
Released in early 1975, Blood on the Tracks initially received mixed reviews from critics.Rolling Stone published two assessments. The first, by Jonathan Cott, called it “Dylan’s magnificent new album”. The second reviewer, Jon Landau, wrote that “the record has been made with typical shoddiness.” In NME, Nick Kent described “the accompaniments often so trashy they sound like mere practice takes”, while Crawdaddy magazine’s Jim Cusimano found the instrumentation incompetent.
An influential review of the album was written by Dylan critic Michael Gray for the magazine Let It Rock. Gray argued that it transformed the cultural perception of Dylan, and that he was no longer defined as “the major artist of the sixties. Instead, Dylan has legitimized his claim to a creative prowess as vital now as thena power not bounded by the one decade he so affected.” This view was amplified by Clinton Heylin, who wrote: “Ten years after he turned the rock & roll brand of pop into rock … renewed its legitimacy as a form capable of containing the work of a mature artist.” In The Village Voice, Robert Christgau wrote that although the lyrics occasionally evoke romantic naiveté and bitterness, Blood on the Tracks is altogether Dylan’s “most mature and assured record”.
The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
A film adaptation of the album is currently in pre-production, under the direction of Luca Guadagnino.
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Blood On The Tracks: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description
Blood on the Tracks: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis tohelp you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
The following version of the novel was used to create this study guide: Nickless, Barbara. Blood on the Tracks. Thomas & Mercer, October 1, 2016. Kindle.
In the novel Blood on the Tracks by Barbara Nickless, a young womans murder sent Marine Corporal Sydney Rose Parnell on an unwelcome trip down memory lane when Parnell realized that evidence in the case she was investigating might incriminate her. Two tours of duty in Iraq left Parnell not only suffering with PTSD but also battling the ghosts of the people she processed working in Mortuary Affairs. Parnell at first feared the victim, Elise Hensley, was killed to keep her quiet about the cover-up of the death of a Marine and Iraqi interpreter, but it turned out the source of evil was much closer to Elise than Parnell could have imagined.
Instead of letting what Parnell called her war self get the best of her, Parnell carried Rhodes back to safety. They were met by Nik, who was alone. Nik tried to shoot Rhodes even though Parnell and Clyde were in danger of being shot as well. Nik put down his gun only when other deputies arrived.
Probably A Good Read Not A Great Listen
There are a lot of things to like about this book. The writing is quite good and the protagonist is unique, flawed, and interesting. The author clearly has firsthand knowledge of the Marine Corps and railway police or she did a lot of very effective research. On the other hand it does tend to drag on at some points, adding length without necessarily adding any depth to the story or the characters.Unfortunately, the narrator detracts from the story so I cannot honestly say how good the book is. This is especially true in regards to the dialog, which felt very mechanical. It’s entirely possible that it would have felt natural had it been read by someone else. This could also be the reason that all the male characters were completely indistinguishable from one another. Why they would choose a narrator with a single male voice to read a book that is dominated by male secondary characters is beyond me. Personally, I do not care for books with high body counts and no repercussions. It feels very unrealistic. So for me that was a negative. Otherwise the story might have been four stars. The book is set up for a series and I would be tempted to read more, but I would not listen again.
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Would you try another book from Barbara Nickless and/or Emily Sutton-Smith?
I love Emily Sutton-Smith as a narrator, but even she couldn’t save this story.
What could Barbara Nickless have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Label it properly.
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