Pick of the Week (#14): First Cause, by Paul West
-Selection made by Rodney Carlstrom
The Book:The world is in chaos from a two-day battery of explosions in many of its major cities. A week after the explosions, journalist Adam Grey wakes up in the hospital. He pieces together the events leading to his injury, involving a woman named Angela. Senator Cyrus Reardon has been appointed the new President of the United States' decimated government. A politician who isn't generally fond of his peers, he's faced with leading a discordant provisional Cabinet, addressing the nation's growing panic, and trying to separate fact from fiction. Confronted with the truth behind the attacks, they--along with the world at large--are forced to reconsider conventional assumptions about human nature and possibility. Everything we know is until we find out otherwise...
The Author: Paul West was born and raised in New York City; he currently resides in Harlem, where he has lived for much of his life. After graduating from NYU with a B.A. in History, he worked in the education and nonprofit world for many years before switching lanes and working in advertising and then fashion.
First Cause was conceived as a screenplay idea in the early 1990s, when West was still an undergraduate; he shelved the project for nearly a decade, and began work again in 1999.
Paul West is a sports enthusiast, student of people, lover of music, voracious reader and fervent believer in human possibility.
The Publisher: Self-Published
My Comments: First Cause is a complex web of a story.
With his debut novel, Paul West has managed to find a way to subtly weave a tale about the human condition and human possibilities into a rich tapestry. As much a social commentary as it is a sucker punch to the gut, First Cause is the ideal gift for unsuspecting readers.
Let that not dissuade, however, for West has succeeded in his mission: entertain the reader first, then deliver with a left hook. Yes, it will undoubtedly hurt at first, but the pain will be a welcome relief to the numb, dumbed down zombie that sat reading the book before. Once that first blow has been delivered it then becomes much easier for the reader to look further into the woven web and deeper into the philosophy that West has presented. Upon first reading, the subtlety of it might pass the readers eyes, but on second look what is presented to the reader is something that should be ingrained into every fiber of the human being, encoded into DNA and allowed to find its way into the world, to multiply and come to fruition.
Although West has managed to do all of this and more, the vehicle with which he has decided to do it will, to some readers, come off a bit clunky in spots. First Cause begins with the reader thrust into the middle of the action, unsure and as confused as the characters in the first handful of pages. From there the story begins to build and unfold with the help of multiple flashbacks; fragments of memory that read as though they were pieced together hastily. Something that might make it hard to follow for most readers.
Overall, First Cause might not be every readers cup of tea. This is a thinking man's book, and something that should not be ignored. If readers enjoy intellegent writing that will make them think, then there should not be any hesitancy in acquiring a copy of Paul West's thought provoking debut. Any future titles by West should not be ignored; knowledge that readers who finish First Cause will be rewarded with.
So make First Cause, by Paul West, the SSP Blog Pick of the Week!
Pick up First Cause today! Direct softcover and Kindle links below: