What the reviewers are saying:
This is a story that is both mind blowing and `claro’ (to use the Spanish vernacular). This author has a wonderfully twisted sense of humor. Not only does she include “yellow outs” and trolls, but the book is full of the `unexpected’ both in the story’s environments and inside her characters. Every time you think you know what is going on, you are proven wrong… just the way you want a story to unfold.
It’s set in a real town in Mexico, and the description of the village architecture made me want to visit “Axixic” and see if that kind of magical atmosphere really does exist.
The characters were ‘real.’ I felt like I could relate to them. They are characters that you either feel like you know, or would want to know if you had the chance.
There is a section where I became wonderfully exhausted as I read – Ms. Carl makes you feel the frenetic urgency her character experienced, but the humor that is interspersed throughout provides comic relief from the intensity.
The description of the protagonist’s painting technique actually gives you insight to a complex singular artistic process. The description of color blending – something that would normally be beyond my understanding – formed images so exacting and vivid, that I couldn’t help but see it too.
I want to see and learn more about Dani and Sylvia, and I hope Ms. Carl keeps them going in her future books.
The ending took me completely by surprise. There is a strong dénouement, one I wish every writer understood – everything is tied together and satisfactorily explained.
This is a multi-dimensional, complex story. My mind was justly blown ~ how often can you say that?
I devoured this wonderful book in one night. It was so strange and intense and different from anything I’ve read lately. I absolutely loved Dani’s “voice” and her wry sense of humor. The writing was simply fantastic. It all flowed so smoothly, like a good friend was talking to me. All in all a highly enjoyable read that I would definitely recommend to others, but especially fans of women’s fiction. (5 stars). April Dawn
This novel pulled me in from the opening pages with Ms. Carl’s warm and engaging narrative voice. The writing was artistic, as was the storyline, and this is definitely one of the better written novels I have come across as of late. If you want an engaging, unique novel that will make you think outside your normal reality for a bit then you have to pick this one up. It’s a winner! (5 stars).Claire Middleton
By far one of the most imaginative and beautiful books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I was so hooked on Ms. Carl’s engaging prose. This book captivated me until the very end. I’d love to read anything that Ms. Carl writes in the future and highly recommend this for fiction lovers. (5 stars). Karen Matthews
This novel was unusual in the sense that it dealt more with surrealism and some mild existentialism, so it isn’t exactly a light and fluffy beach read -yet it does have a very easy-going tone about it. If that sounds contradictory, it’s just that the author delves into some heavy mental subjects matter, yet it never takes itself too serious and has many laugh-out-loud moments. (4 stars). Stacy Decker
A unique artistic perspective of living life’s dreams. A definite recommended read! Lisa Fox, TBR topbookreviewers.com
This was a very wonderful journey. While the book is not in the “normal” bizarro realm (is there such a thing?), it is still far outside of the norm that it really kept me flipping the pages. What is reality? What is a dream? Or is all of this some drug- or sleep-depraved hallucination?
As I read this book, I kept questioning my own place in “modern” society, in the daily chores, the endless trail of electronic paperwork, and the go-go-go world we live in. And, seeing as the lead character has given this all up for a simpler life in Mexico really had me wishing I could just pack up and go. But with it come a host of other problems–getting away from it all doesn’t always make us more creative or inspire us.
The writing is clean and the story is smooth and well-paced. But that is really a sidelight to my real enjoyment of the story: It made me think and question reality as it is. Bizarro (I mean the stuff with pink bunnies toting daisy-shaped machine guns and chewing on lima beans) is unpredictable and strange. This was unpredictable, but also clever enough to stretch the mind and alter perceptions–there are too many cookie-cutter works of fiction out there, and this one really stands out of the crowd with its ambition. The ending was so well done, and unexpected.
This book ranks high up there when it comes to anything I have been asked to review. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Don’t let the title of Paint, Present and Future (author’s note: This book was previous published under a different title) fool you. There is so much to this book that I simply could not put it down. I love reading anything that takes place in Mexico because it the one place I want to visit so much. The story is part dream, part reality but it is well written and something I think you will all enjoy.
I love books that I can’t put down and this one grabbed me from the start.
I couldn’t wait to read what was going to happen next.
Part fantasy, part mystery, part comedy, but I don’t want to give it all away you’ll have to read it for yourself 🙂
I recommend this book and can’t wait to read her next one.
What it’s about:
In a quaint village in Mexico, Dani, a struggling, endearing, and somewhat klutzy artist, sets out in pursuit of her dream. Little did she know that the pursuit would become the dream. One night a Shadow Man appears and sends her on a quest: she must find a mysterious woman, and it can only be done through a series of ten paintings. Each painting is prefaced by bizarre situations; including a hurricane, a yellow-out storm, and an excursion into a curio shop with no doors. Three uncooperative guides: a translucent figure, a troll, and a typist who lives in a tree, hold the key. . .but to what?
Sylvia, Dani’s best friend, Ivan, a carpenter obsessed with mesquite tables, and Chuy, an Argentinian Fire Dancer, are Dani’s only link to the ‘real’ world. But eventually even they can’t help as she finds herself sinking further and further into the depths.
Would you follow your dreams into madness? Did you ever have recurring dreams? Dreams of flying or finding new rooms in your home, rooms you never knew existed, rooms filled with hidden money that you never knew you had? Did you dismiss them, or forget you even had them? Or did you follow them, prepared for an adventure that may very well cause you to lose your mind? I lost my mind once, okay maybe twice, okay maybe several times. None of that matters, though, because in the losing of my mind I found my soul.
I can’t start this story from the beginning of the thirty-five years that led me to this point. To be honest, I can’t even remember it all. I’ve always puzzled at that phrase; “To be honest.” What is the alternative? To lie? To start with, “Well, to fabricate. . .?” Is this a fabrication? It’s up to you to decide.
My life has always been a series of start-overs. Each start-over had commonalities. They began with visits to friends or family. Each ‘visit’ turned into years; a new life, a new home, a new job, a new sense of security. When that security turned into boredom I found a new place to go. And in that new place I created yet more security.
Mine was also a life of parties, and drugs, and different states of consciousness, which of course, is an inevitable result of the parties and drugs. I travelled beyond this world, within this world. Even then I grew stultified.
One day, it was a Saturday, ah, the treasured weekend. I was on my way out to meet friends for drinks, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Somehow a third of my life had passed by and lines had started to carve into the skin of my youth, and what had I done, really? What had I accomplished? I appeared to have lived a daring life, but hadn’t I really played it safe? To be honest with myself—had I ever truly dared? Ennui had set in once more. This time I wanted an absolute risk. To challenge myself.
This time I wanted a true start-over, a pure start-over. What else could those flying dreams mean? What else could those undiscovered rooms mean? I dared myself. “Self,” I said, “it’s time for you to jump. Go to where you are not known—but where you can become known.”
So I sat at my computer and I browsed Google Earth. I would have closed my eyes and spun my globe but I lost it in one of my many moves. Instead, I let my cursor find its way to Axixic, Mexico. I found a village of artisans, in a place with a comfortable climate. I mean, let’s face it, the Massachusetts winters already made my bones ache, and the thick humidity of summer made me lethargic and unable to draw deep breaths.
I knew no one in Axixic, and the prospect of being caught up in creativity impelled me. How often had I sat with paint at the ready and visions in my head, convinced that never the twain shall meet? So I took my scant savings, my two cats—Ian and Mojo, my laptop, and three trunks filled with clothes and art supplies, and up and moved to this foreign place.
I rather quickly, found a small, affordable, furnished, third floor loft. I unpacked my few belongings and made the place my own. Mojo and Ian, settled in, seemingly content. Eager to explore this new village, I left them curled up on the bed, and set out.
Music and enlivened chatter drew me to El Bar del Lago. The local dive where even the low lights couldn’t hide the worn, leather bar stools, and crusty wallpaper peeling with age. That is where I met Chuy, Sylvia, and Ivan. Their dreams overlapped mine and soon our lives were entwined. This is where it truly began.
Cover design by yours truly.
Cover photo by Frederico Stevanin:http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Other_g374-Dreaming_A_Different_World_p13313.html