Saturday, December 23, 2006

REVIEW: Enola's Wedding by Jack Mauro


An unprovoked bee sting hobbles Enola Tyrwhitt. Drew Morrigan, ever the gallant knight (and, in this instance, the noble steed as well) comes to her rescue, sweeping Enola off her feet and carrying her to safety.

After so romantic a first encounter, what choice do Enola and Drew have but to wed?

In ways both profound and minute, Enola and Drew's engagement reverberates far beyond the happy couple. As does Enola's slow realization that, just maybe, she and Drew are not quite soul-mates after all.


Enola’s Wedding tells several love stories. It tells of love amongst friends, family, and lovers; of love that is returned and that is unrequited; that redeems and that demeans; that persists and that withers.

Contrary to the common edict, Mauro often tells rather than shows. He does simply recount his characters' actions and thoughts. Rather, he comments and philosophizes, observes and contradicts, editorializes and explores. Mauro’s narration dominates the tale.

This approach has its risks. Such an idiosyncratic style can easily descend into irritating self-parody if not handled with consummate skill. Indeed, Mauro’s characters initially wilt into an undifferentiated mass in the shadow of his overwhelming personality.

However, Mauro proves more than equal to the challenge. His writing is, quite simply, glorious. His voice is insightful, funny, and captivating. He swoops in and out of characters’ thoughts, histories and feelings, and then darts into illuminating analogies, reflections and homilies. The reader may constantly be aware of Mauro as narrator. But Mauro understands his characters too well, and talks about them too vividly, for them not to develop as full and sympathetic individuals.

Nor does Mauro's inventiveness hide his fundamental compassion for his characters. This empathy does more than soften Mauro’s often arch tone. It elevates Enola’s Wedding from being a mere stylistic showpiece into being a truly moving, wonderful meditation on the manifold nature of love.


Enola's Wedding is available through iUniverse and Amazon, as is Jack Mauro's stylistically similar, and equally wonderful, Spite Hall. Mauro’s decision to publish through iUniverse is fortuitous; as I discussed here, iUniverse allows customers to preview the books it publishes, so you can check out Mauro’s writing before laying down your money to confirm whether you find it as enthralling as I do.

Additional information about Mauro is available on his homepage, although as of this writing its current focus is Mauro's upcoming guide to online dating (due to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2007). I wish Mauro the best of luck with this book, but must admit I hope he returns to fiction one day.


David W. Jacobsen is a singer-songwriter with a distinctive voice, both in terms of his vocals and his compositions. Jacobsen’s quirky edge sets him apart even when addressing well-worn matters of romance and loss. His virtues come to the fore on The Chasm.

As Jacobsen notes on his website, The Chasm is “about the gap between people who are trying to connect.” While a bit overlong, the album is a fine tribute to the humor and pain of love. Among several highlights, “Jacqueline” beautifully elegizes a relationship that cowardice killed before it could even begin; “Dry Spell” is a humorous folk mock-anthem about Jacobsen's solidarity as “one of many not getting any” (sex, that is); and album-opener “10,000 feet” rages, in a polite folk-rock way, about a woman trying so hard to be special that she isolates herself from the man who is trying to treasure her.

The Chasm, as well as other Jacobsen albums, is available for purchase on CD from CDBaby, or as MP3 downloads from eMusic, or, if you don't mind being subject to Apple's DRM restrictions (which I personally find abhorrent), from iTunes. Just like iUniverse, all of these sites offer previews, so you can sample Jacobsen's voice before you buy.

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