A Most Spectacular Narrative:
"As I reflect on this book of life – I am reminded of so many frailties in life and the fact that we only pull through every single day because we have one another. A Most Spectacular Narrative is thoughtful, provocative and real…it is life at its fullest with all the blemishes and the angst of humanism. A beautiful book - a grand story."
"What more can I say... one author with three inspiring expressions of human experiences described with sensitive detail and insight. All three novels carried messages that spoke of resilience, love and faith – Necessities of Life; Drowning in Iowa and A Most Spectacular Narrative.
Gordon captures life’s dichotomy - love and loss, happiness and sadness, frustrations and successes with humour and compassion. Gordon takes each of these feelings and experiences and portrays it in a manner that is relatable.
A Most Spectacular Narrative resonated with me and my own life experience and the enduring power of hope. I was pleased to read that many experiences reflect the life observations of the author himself!!!
Keep on writing, Gordon!"
Drowning in Iowa:
"Drowning in Iowa is a stunning work. It begins slowly, as life so often does, a benign story about a family making their way through the tapestry of time with a big decision weaved through from time to time. And then, in a way that all who have suffered would recognise, that tapestry is pulled apart when tragedy strikes, and all of a sudden the story carries the complexity and heartache that follows.
Without any exaggeration, I don’t think any other book has engrossed me or moved me so much – gently at first, and then in depth as time went on. I found it deeply beautiful, deeply devastating, deeply tragic and deeply hopeful. It got under my skin, and I will hold on to the wisdom it conveys even in the midst of tragedy for a long time yet."
Have you ever closed the pages of a book around one finger and lowered it to your lap... Been left sitting there... Breathless... Looking off somewhere with an unfocused gaze... While your soul catches up with the last line you just read? That's this book... Over and over... This is a must read... & a must read again.
It is so well written that it doesn't take long before you forget that you're reading, and instead find yourself amongst the characters... Leaning back against a kitchen counter... With a tea cup in your hand... & a lump... In your throat.”
"The setting for Gordon Self’s second novel, like many talented Canadian artists, moves south to the USA. Though without some of the drama and danger of his debut novel (The Necessities of Life- set in Vancouver’s East Main street drug ghettos) Self’s engaging story-telling craft explores the intricacies of parental grief in Iowa. As a former hospital chaplain the author clearly knows the emotional struggles and deep existential questions of couples who've lost a child.
He weaves together important issues of identity, fidelity and family in this captivating tale of two busy physicians who stumble towards the truth of the old adage “Physician heal thy self”. Over worked professionals, and parents balancing work and family demands will find likable kindred spirits in the two doctors working through life’s struggles. The wife and husband’s efforts to stay connected and find peace in the midst of pain and suffering offers hope and encouragement to the rest of us in our own times of turmoil. I look forward to Self’s next book wondering where he will take us next."
"Gordon Self transports the reader through a journey that could be anyone’s life. A heartfelt and beautifully written story of a loving couple caught in a tide of marital struggle, career demands, temptations, confusion, the loss of a child, depression, and isolation. Drowning in Iowa is a lovely homage to compassionate care providers and families. It offers hope to all who have experienced the pain of losing a child or are living with depression."
"As someone who grew up in the Mason City/Clear Lake region, Gordon Self captures perfectly the culture of the area in a book filled with suffering, love and medical trauma. Self perfectly captures the essence of loss and the impact on family relationships. An excellent read!”
"Drowning in Iowa is a compelling story of love and sorrow. Gordon has provided insight into the emotional jungle that families navigate through during life's challenges. A truly heartfelt message.”
"The Drowning in Iowa characters, their family interactions, emotions, and settings feel authentic. My emotions churned too. I couldn’t put this book down and so read it in two days."
The Necessities of Life:
“'Necessities of Life' is a reflective yet gritty tale of life in Vancouver with a cast of characters we have all met somewhere on our path. It takes us deeper into the thoughts and motivations of pimps, parents and priests, prostitutes, police, and paupers. Deftly weaving half a dozen plot lines together this first novel by Edmonton writer Gordon Self slows down our usual quick judgements by revealing the back stories that haunt and hound his protagonists. Life is revealed as more precious, complex, fragile and painful than we suspected. In the end there are few heroes or villains to praise or blame, only broken flawed people just trying to make it through another day. People of faith will appreciate the inside look at diocesan and parish life as well as the compassionate yet thoughtful treatment of touchy topics such as child abandonment, incest, sex slavery, and addictions. At times raw and shocking in its earthy realism, at other times moving and touching in its treatment of intimate human moments, this book will be a gripping read for the thinking soul."
"In 'The Necessities of Life', author Gordon Self challenges readers to a deeper understanding of the complexity of the very real and raw personal issues in our communities – brilliantly weaving these with an invitation to check our own inner spiritual polarities. It is a powerful story of circumstances, values, moral judgments, ambiguities and unintended consequences. It is a reminder that the complexity of life does not lend itself to simple solutions, and puts a human face on the works of the Catholic church in a modern, multicultural and raw urban setting.