Hamartia by Eric James-Olson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I think it was Christian Siriano who brought the term "hot mess" into the current pop culture lexicon. The dictionary defines "Hamartia" as a fatal flaw, a mistake, or a lack in judgment. I'm not sure why Erric James-Olson chose Hamartia for the title of this short story. If his intent was to label this material as a fatal flaw or lack in judgment, I would have to agree with him, although I'd have settled for Hot Mess as an equally appropriate description for what is between the pages of this story.
The description of Hamartia tells me that this small portion is supposed to be an add-on for material covered in James-Olsons other books which apparently make up a series. It's supposed to give us more insight into the characters James-Olson has previously created. I thought reading **Hamartia** would be a good place to begin with this author, who I'd never read before. Well, using the definition I've cited here, **Hamartia** was most definitely my Hamartia. I can't say this material was unreadable, but it sure did come mighty close.
There was little to no structure to the plot line of the story of Big Frank Stanley. I gathered he was supposed to be the bad guy, but it was hard to be sure of that because whenever I thought I was finally getting somewhere in understanding what point was being made, the book took off in another direction with different people. There were paragraph markings, so it wasn't impossible to figure out that we were no longer on one subject but had broken into the middle of a completely different conversation with a different set of characters.
We are given glimpses of Big Frank's character or lack of it, along with journalists, fixers, and a friend who may not really be a friend. The only strong presence in this story was a painting hanging on the wall in Big Frank's dining room. He's sharing space with a corpse practically at his feet, but he simply cannot take his eyes off that painting. The description of this work of art again brought one phrase to mind - Hot Mess. I believe the image on the book cover is supposed to represent that canvas.
Eric James-Olson has also written **Farmers and Cannibals** along with a sequel to that. I have not read either of the other two books in the series, but I have to say after reading the mash-up **Hamarta** turned out to be even though I did buy F&C, I'm not in any big rush to read it. I've had my Hamartia for the day... I don't think I'm ready for another one just yet.
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