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The first several book reviews for The Friends of Allan Renner are in, and given that they’re largely complimentary and provide keen insights into the source material, I’ve decided to ring in 2021 here by sharing excerpts of a handful of them, with links to the larger articles and websites.

Writing for Midwest Book Review as well as for her excellent book blog, Donovan’s Bookshelf, senior reviewer for the former publication, Diane Donovan, had this to say:

Like the film community it explores, the pace of this story is provided in staccato impressions with segues that link characters, events, and changing circumstances in a satisfying cinematic-style experience. […] While in many ways the main character is a mirror of his creator, Dave J. Andrae, the story is narrated from the changing perspectives of not only Renner but eight of Allan’s friends. This makes for an astute observation of the evolution of Allan’s life and psyche, both from the protagonist’s viewpoint and those around him.

Writing for Self-Publishing Review, critic John Staughton added:

Knowing that Allan Renner isn’t a direct proxy for the author is also enjoyable; this is a fictional memoir of sorts, which leaves room for stories to get a bit out of hand, with high stakes and plot lines that teeter past the edge of believability. However, despite the fictional nature of the prose, the author cleverly makes us forget that this isn’t a true story. The interactions feel too visceral, like real-life conversations overheard in a bar that make us lean back to listen in.

A critic for Kirkus Reviews noted:

In Andrae’s novel, Renner’s relationships take him to some disparate places. After all, his friends are not just a diverse mix, they also have their own complex, engaging background stories. Whether Renner is having a crossbow pointed at him after talking about films or waiting for a potentially dangerous convict to audition for a part in a movie, the sympathetic hero, no matter how kind and good-natured he may be, has the potential to land in some sticky situations.

In a review penned for Online Book Club, critic Sam Ibeh said:

While reading this book, I felt like I was sailing through a quiet river at night. I found the storyline unique and exciting, and it gave me a “quiet thrill.” It had a depth and meaning that appealed to me, and it made me think about some of the moral and ethical issues in our world. I also pondered on the effect of these issues in the grand scheme of things. […] I admire the author’s writing style; it showed creativity and intellect. He employed an understated wit and humor in his writing. The book had a warm, personable feel that put me at ease while reading it.

And in recent review for Bestsellers World, critic Lisa Brown-Gilbert wrote:

Dave J. Andrae’s The Friends of Allan Renner proposes an intelligent exploration of life through a multi-level, multiperspectival narrative which comes by virtue of Allan Renner’s encounters and discourse with his eclectic assortment of friends. […] This book is definitively an offering of food for thought, brimming with revelations about life and people in general. This is a narrative that is provocative in its ideals and shines through its characters, their thoughts, actions and personalities during their congregations with central character Allan Renner often giving a story within a story as their backstories are also very revealing about human nature.

I gotta say, given what unusual times we’re living in, it’s reassuring whenever a stranger delves into a project like this and is able to tap into what it has to offer. Color me appreciative. I welcome more readers, professional and non-professional alike, to take the plunge and share their impressions.

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