Blood and Remembrance cover

Blood and Remembrance

BLOOD AND REMEMBRANCE
by
CHRIS MANNO
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Publication Date: March 3, 2018
Number of Pages: 321 pages

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Blood and Remembrance is the prequel to the award-winning Texas novel, East JesusThis new, stand-alone story rampages from the west Texas plains to Huntsville’s Death Row and back. Cowboys, ranchers, driven oilmen, desperate convicts and headstrong women grapple with truths of the heart, of life, and the coming of age in a dramatic struggle you’ll live yourself and never forget.

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Clueless Gent’s Rating

In my opinion, Blood and Remembrance is quite the atypical novel – and I loved it!  I need to explain that.  In most novels, there is a protagonist who needs to do or achieve something.  The majority of the novel then takes the reader through the protagonist’s “quest” to do what needs to be done, all the while being beaten down by the antagonist(s).  The climax of the story occurs when the protagonist finally achieves the goal, or realizes that it can’t or won’t be achieved.  That’s the “meat and potatoes” of most novels I read.  (No disrespect meant for any vegans out there.)  In Blood and Remembrance, by stark contrast, there are three distinct protagonists (one of whom is incarcerated), each with a distinct storyline, and none of them really have a goal that needs to be accomplished.  Stuff happens to them, sure, and they each change in at least some small way by the end of the story, but there is no distinct climax, like there is in typical novels.  It’s more like mini-climaxes, but it’s not.  It’s confusing, I know, but in at least this instance, this formula works!

I say they’re three separate storylines, but they’re not completely separate.  In most books with multiple storylines, they all seem to merge together near the climax.  This book, however, intermingles them throughout, yet no storyline is dependent on another, yet each would be slightly different without the other.  If you can’t understand that, you’ll just have to read the book (which you should do anyway)!

I seriously doubt if anyone less than an amazing writer could pull this off.  But Chris Manno did.  And, in this instance, Chris Manno wrote one of the best books I’ve ever read.  (Just to be fair, I have not [yet] read East Jesus, of which this book is the prequel.)

The Setting of Blood and Remembrance

I don’t really understand where the title of this book came from.  Maybe it will make more sense after I read East Jesus.  However, the setting is Texas!  Most of the story takes place in the panhandle, but one of the main characters is serving a prison sentence in Huntsville, which is north of Houston, and also the home of the busiest death chamber in the nation.  This story takes place before Texas retired Old Sparky – the electric chair – in favor of lethal injection.  That fact adds some additional drama to one of the storylines.  (Can you guess which one?)

I’m guessing the story took place in the 70’s.  It may have been mentioned in the story, but it certainly wasn’t stressed.  Thus, I’m not exactly sure.  However, it was during a time when there was still a lot of cigarette smoking and drinking going on, even in restaurants.

The description in this novel is utterly amazing!  From the sprawling Texas ranch, to the turkey packing plant and Huntsville Prison, the reader gets  vivid sensory treats of the sights, sounds and smells.  (Please note that I did not say they were all good sights, sounds and smells.  Just vivid ones.) I could almost feel the hot and cold winds and spiraling dust clouds that are the Texas panhandle.  I was also impressed with the way Manno portrayed the contemporary (for the day) Texas cowboy/ranch hand.

Technically Speaking

There were some SPAG issues in the book.  There were some obvious typos, at least one instance of using the wrong character’s name in dialogue, and I think a couple places where the wrong word was used.  However, in a novel this good, those issues just don’t matter much to me.

The character arcs were subtle, but they were there. Even though they were subtle, I thought the “changes” in the characters were very original.

I would think that in a book like this, the pacing is critical to keep the reader engaged.  There were just a few spikes, but the overall pacing of the book is pretty consistent.  Think about that.  There were three separate stories, yet Manno was able to make the pacing consistent from one story to the next.  I consider that to be one of the greatest aspects of this book’s technical merit.

I won’t tell you how each of the three stories ends, except to say that each ending was unexpected [to me].

I know I could go on and on about how exceptional Blood and Remembrance is – but I won’t.  I think I’ve given you enough information to decide whether you should read this book.  If you’re a reader who loves the “story” element of fiction, you’ll be thrice delighted from cover to cover!

I received a free copy of this book from Lone Star Book Blog Tours in exchange for my honest review.

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Chris Manno of Fort Worth, Texas, earned a doctorate in English from Texas Christian University and teaches writing at Texas Wesleyan University. 

East Jesus, his first novel, was named “finalist” (second place) for Best Fiction of 2017 by the North Texas Book Festival. The novel takes a close-up, visceral look at West Texas life in 1969 and the good folks who lived it, grappling with notions of family, patriotism and violence, both domestic and in a far-off, unpopular war. 

Blood and Remembrance is the prequel to East Jesus, tracing the roots of the main characters in both books, examining the harsh but classically All-American story of life in the Texas panhandle. 

Manno is also the author of a third novel, Voodoo Rush, winner for Best Fiction of 2018 by the North Texas Book Festival, and a collection of short stories titled Short Fiction for the Impatient Reader. Both books are available from White Bird Publications of Austin Texas. 

Website  ║  Facebook ║ Twitter Amazon Author Page

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4/25/18
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2 thoughts on “Blood and Remembrance

  1. What an insightful review! I read East Jesus, and it sounds like Manno again has mastered that mood/setting of the small Texas town. I am really looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for a great post!

  2. One thing I forgot to mention – but really wanted to – was just how good the paperback “feels,” in a physical sense. I don’t know what kind of paper they made the cover out of, but I’m loving it! I found myself wanting to carry it with me everywhere!

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