The Author's Review of Auction Yard - a Novella by John Daulton
In a departure from his usual science fiction and fantasy work (see The Galactic Mage), John Daulton has created a compelling look into the nature of desire, fidelity and romantic relationships both new and old. Auction Yard is a carefully written short piece, which some might argue is more a long short story than a novella. Regardless of how one designates it, it is a meticulously crafted story and a pleasant read in which the careful reader will find a wealth of delicious symbolism and detail.
The story is set on a modern day cattle ranch and the protagonist—emphasis on the “agonist” part—Sam Blanchard finds himself at the well-worn crossroads where so many men have been before (it’s sort of like the opposite of a Star Trek episode, which is ironic when you consider Daulton writes sci-fi). With mortality looming before him and self-doubt creeping up from behind, Sam must decide what matters most to him: his beloved wife Shirley or the breathtaking, young Stephanie La Brie—the tradition or the adventure. Should he live each day in the moment he has, is now the real moment of truth, the moment that counts, or is there greater joy in a life made of accumulated experience, though such a life may not seem to glow so brilliantly?
It’s the conflict between the continuity of one life and the pursuit of dreams not yet fulfilled. The old dream, or the new. Somewhere in those choices is Sam’s nightmare.
Unlike more conventional treatments of these familiar problems, Daulton brings us a story steeped in a life lived on the land. In Auction Yard, the story is not just set on a cattle ranch, the story is the cattle ranch and the lives for which it provides. The people, the animals, the very grass, all grow out of the land, in the land and of the land. It is Sam’s journey to discover, perhaps for the first time in his fifty-some years, just what that means.
Auction Yard is definitely not a typical approach to these problems, and it might even be argued that Daulton is arguing against the momentum of many decades of literary misandry, which has painted all things masculine into barbarism and mindlessness, the male as simply an unthinking sex-monster whose only motives are lust and money, and whose only complexity is manifest in the ability to select which light beer he likes and perhaps what sports team to root for—the world from Fred Flintstone to Peter Griffin. Daulton’s story complicates male desire and gives an examination of this protagonist that is less rooted in hostility and left-over feminist rage and more inclined towards allowing one human the opportunity to live in the skin into which “he or she” was born. It is neither gender assault nor gender justification; it merely is. Which is why it’s worth a look.
In the Interest of Disclosure...
Now I must, as I always do when reviewing my own work (which, for those who are not familiar with my Shadesbreath brand of literary, grammatical and satirical work), reveal to any who don’t know it yet (or didn't catch it in the title), that this story is written by me. I confess that, while my degrees are in English, my background (that portion of it with which I have supported myself for these last two decades and beyond) is in sales and marketing. Anyone who knows ANYTHING about how the writing business works knows that writers who have no publicity and marketing behind them sell nothing, and nobody ever reads their work.
Given that I do not wish to languish in that category if I have any say about it, I must, then, deploy what publicity I can on my own behalf, so, I hope you will forgive my having taken the time to review my own novella. I can assure you that the preceding review is absolutely accurate and written with every ounce of honor and integrity I can muster given the obvious bias I likely cannot escape despite how hard I try. Feel free to argue about it in a comment if you care to pipe in or even write your own review. But no matter what you say, I will always feel that it’s really fun to refer to one’s self in the third person, and that alone makes Daulton happy about writing this review.
Daulton hopes you’ll try out his new novella, Auction Yard: it’s a fine bit of modern fiction, and one that has left all his pre-release readers in tears. So, if you like to cry, try it. If you don’t like to cry, see if you can get through it without an emotional response. I bet you can’t.
The Galactic Mage video trailer
Other works by John Daulton:
Also available for Kindle ($2.99) and on Nook (also $2.99).
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