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As we near the one-year mark of The Friends of Allan Renner’s initial release, almost all of the press related to the novel has been taken care of for the foreseeable future. I’ve genuinely enjoyed reading most of what people have had to say; a couple of dissenters were inevitable—it’s not a book for everyone—but the reviews to date have been largely positive.

But more to the point, while the book can be perceived from several different vectors of understanding, I feel that a good amount of ground has been covered by those who’ve taken the plunge during these first twelve months. In significant ways, these various takes have informed others’ views of the book, as well as my own, and for the better. So there’s something to feel thankful for.

Several weeks ago, I had what may well be my most fruitful (but also concise) one-on-one interaction with the press to date, in a Feathered Quill interview with reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott. It can be read here, and is worth your time if you’re at all sympathetic to the kind of art I like and like to make.

Last week saw a rundown of The Friends of Allan Renner from Tucker Lieberman of Independent Book Review, which can be read here. I especially like the following quote from it:

As the film audition points out, the meaning of a story is profoundly affected by the actor who interprets it. Indirectly, the reader of The Friends of Allan Renner is prompted to consider that these fictional events could have been told in various emotive voices for different purposes. It so happens that Andrae, the novelist, animates this story with a light, absurdist touch and wry detachment.

A little while back, voracious reader, reviewer, and author himself Matt McAvoy gave an honest take on the book here, from which the following kind words were taken:

An easygoing read, which actually felt a fair bit shorter than its lengthy word count. […] It is at times laugh-out-loud funny (imagine a stoner web designer going on the rampage with a mace) and at other times heartbreakingly poignant; Andrae is a tremendous author, who manages to pull off all of these different styles and moods. 

Also hailing from the UK, reviewer Charlotte Walker penned a nice little review of the book for the site LoveReading here, saying, among other things:

With references throughout the story to a ‘fateful day in 2017’ the plot strolls on, creating intrigue as you try to work out what’s going to happen to Allan. There are elements of science fiction but I think that this book demonstrates most strongly the bonds made by and between people. […] An innovative concept that I feel has been well executed and makes for an interesting read.

And in a review for Readers’ Favorite, which can be read here, critic K.C. Finn wrote:

Author Dave J. Andrae has crafted a most engrossing work of fiction that masterfully balances the surreal and the real, the sublime and the ridiculous, to deliver a humorous but poignant look at the meaning of modern life.

All in all I really do appreciate people taking the time to delve into it and offer their own perspectives. Any book bloggers or reviewers who’d like to do so going forward shouldn’t hesitate to visit my official my website here and get in touch.

Another project is underway, and it’s hard to tell if or when it’ll see the light of day. But in the meantime, have a swell rest of the year as we move toward 2022.

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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The day is finally here: my debut novel, The Friends of Allan Renner, has been released! You can purchase the hardcover version on Amazon HERE at any time. You can learn more as to what the book is about, as well as purchase it in one of three different eBook formats (MOBI, EPUB, or PDF), by visiting the page dedicated to it on my website, https://www.dave-andrae.com/book.html. When more formal reviews trickle in toward the end of the year, that’s where they’ll be posted.

A lot could be said about this particular book, if one were so inclined. From the standpoint of its creation, I can say that it required more work of me than any other project I’ve been involved in, and if you don’t know me that well, I’ve been involved in more than a few productions that were “the gift that kept on giving” where personal investment was concerned.

But I’m of the school that a person should work hard on something only to make it more enjoyable for those that might behold it. I put a huge premium here on crafting a book that would flow well, be exciting to read, and not be too bloated. To me, there’s a quiet thrill in putting something together and finding out it has its own momentum and internal logic, its own style and dynamics. In this book, a good amount happens, and the stakes sometimes get quite high, but just as much attention is paid to exposition and humorous asides as to plotting. The Friends of Allan Renner is a character-driven, mixed genre novel that incorporates multiple perspectives, in which each of its seven chapters functions as a kind of “mini book” that relates somewhat to all of the others.

Though it was quite the demanding undertaking and often kept me up at night, overall, I enjoyed writing The Friends of Allan Renner and consider it one of the most fleshed out things I’ve made in any medium. I hope you can get around to delving into it, if you’ve enjoyed my art in the past, or hell, even if you haven’t, as it rewards a closer look.

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