Saturday, September 29, 2012

Advance Review: James Baldwin Cohen on "Bottomless Bottle of Beer"

Bottomless Bottle Cover
Terrance Lindall

The avant-garde artist Terrance Lindall sent me an experimental cover for some version or other of my story "The Bottomless Bottle of Beer," but whether for a comics version in some magazine or the novella version in book form, I'm not sure, and perhaps Terrance isn't yet either, for he's merely at the experimental stage so far. The quotes along the bottom are borrowed from Dostoevsky, and one appears at the heading of each section of my story, so there are eight in all.

Terrance also sent along a review by someone named 'James Baldwin Cohen':
The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, a New Novel by Horace Jeffery Hodges

The Bottomless Bottle of Beer is a short novel that already has the lucky readers of the reviewer's copy, calling it a "classic of English literature in our time."

Terrance Lindall, an editorial advisor for International Authors, received one of the first drafts. He glanced at it groaning about reading another new unpublished work and it remained on his desk for a couple of months. Finally, after wrapping up some work on his Paradise Lost project, he picked it up. He was delightedly astounded by the richness and philosophical depth of the work, while indeed it still had a bounce and wonderful sense of humor. He could not put it down and asked Jeffery if he could illustrate it. In a short period of time he put out thirty conceptual black and white drawings giving us a visual idea of the wonderful full color graphic novel to come. The work engages phraseology of John Milton, references Hegel and Heidegger, John Locke and more, all while telling a ripping tale.

What is the tale? It is the first person story of how a naïf, an amateur in the appreciation of a good beer, seemingly like Mr. Hodges himself, is seduced by Mr. Em (the Devil himself) into selling his soul ("his blood") for a bottle of beer that never runs dry. It is a seductive brew with a "hint of goat." Our Naïf runs astray in the midst of a variety of unusual and humorously devilish characters including a gorgeous female vampire named Hella who takes great interest in him.

I will not tell you the rest of the story, you will have to read this remarkably entertaining short novel for yourself. It appears in Emanations, Second Sight, a compendium edited by Carter Kaplan, that contains a number of brilliant works by new authors.

Terrance Lindall, the famed illustrator of Milton's Paradise Lost, is working on the full color copiously illustrated version that will come out in several formats, including an eight pager for magazines, plus a one hundred page graphic novel.

I admire the project no end!

James Baldwin Cohen
As I told Terrance, "Wow! I'll have to re-read my story for those allusions to Hegel, Heidegger, and Locke! I must be smarter than I am . . ." Whatever the truth of that, I wish I knew who 'James Baldwin Cohen' is. A Google search didn't turn up much that I could access, but -- if I take seriously an entry on Google+ that I can't entirely open -- the 'name'appears to be a pseudonym, a literary double, a nom de plume, a pen name:
James Baldwin Cohen is not my real name. I was born in the Ruhr Valley in 1926 to a patrician steel company family. I have traveled the world. I worked for the United States government in behavioral modification in the 1960's. I am one of the few private individuals to have access to a Cray supercomputer for my research.
A rather mysterious individual, this 'Cohen,' and also rather old if he was really born in 1926, but since he's hiding his true name, he might also be hiding other details (even such as 'his' gender?). Be that as it may, he seems to do freelance reviews not only of literature, but also of art, as can be seen here.

At any rate, I'll keep readers posted on developments . . .

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At 11:27 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Congrats and good luck as your fame spreads wide! Any thoughts on making this into an e-book?

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, too early for congratulations, Kevin, but thanks.

Yes, Lindall and I are considering an e-book as an option for readers, though a book with Lindall's illustrations might draw readers to the traditional book form.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:06 PM, Blogger Shannon Hodges said...


Well done! Others are recognizing an depth- oriented, engaging tale. (What would Freud have said? Or better, Victor Frankl?)


At 10:17 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Freud would have considered it the future of an allusion, and Frankl would have called it locotherapy.

Anyway, I'm glad to have a positive review, even if by a pseudonymous mystery man . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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