The Compulsive Move by Phillip Cornell looks and reads like a writer’s first attempt at publication. There is a good idea for the story. The organization of the presentation is well done. Background stories characters supply are credible and show the author’s familiarity with his character’s background information. What remains are a few problems that are easy to fix but are distracting to a reader.
This was a Book of the Day from OnlineBookClub.org for 21 January 2017. As I read the free sample pages prior to entering a raffle, my impressions were all positive. As I moved further along in the book post sample, the mostly mechanical error distractions became more annoying. For me, the lesson learned was that the sample is not always a good indication of what I will meet in the complete version. This short 59-page novella is not free through Kindle Unlimited, but a free sample is offered on the Amazon website.
There is a good story. Kevin is 19 years old, lives at home with his parents, and is a student in a suburb of St. Louis. He feels that the city has gotten too small for him and for some reason, whether through his social media contacts or friends, has heard a lot about the opportunities to be had in Chicago. Kevin becomes fixated on moving to Chicago and all his activities are undertaken with that goal in mind. He is mindful that his family won’t like it. He has a strong relationship with mom, dad, two younger siblings and a grandmother. He thinks that his three close friends won’t like it. But he can talk Will, Matt, and Timothy into accepting anything. He thinks his girlfriend won’t mind too much. J’adore is going to Spain for study and if it is going to be a long distance relationship anyway, it doesn’t matter where he is located. Relationships aren’t his biggest problem, money is. He will have to be self-sufficient as far as supporting himself financially.
In St. Louis, Kevin works part time as a stock clerk in a retail shoe store. The job is part time because he is a student. He works at the store two or three days a week. This job is described in exhausting detail by the author. Could the author have had a similar job? I believe that is a high probability. This is an interesting contrast when we look at the character of Kevin. One of his major flaws is his lack of ability at organization. The organizational structure at the shoe clerk job is given or imposed on Kevin by Clay, store manager, and Josh, assistant store manager. But Kevin wants to move on. He wants to be an events or party organizer and receive income from the great, creative, and innovative events he will be responsible for hosting. That type of job requires a lot of organization to satisfy the demands of details that cannot be overlooked. And Kevin wants to move into this new field in Chicago, a city he is unfamiliar with. He only knows that St. Louis is too small for him.
This novella will be interesting for anyone who has ever applied for student loans and lived with the ever increasing level of debt. It will be interesting to readers who have faced the angst that comes with changing family relationships that happen when leaving the nest. The author gives fascinating detail about the business of promoting events and the detailed work that goes into planning. Cornell addresses the areas of branding, promotion, venue, security, government regulation, and the fickleness of the public (the customer). The author is not prescriptive in suggesting solutions, he is giving the reader food for thought.
I found it interesting that Kevin thought St. Louis was too small for him. Having spent a lot of time in Carbondale, Illinois, I used to travel to St. Louis for concert events and parties. I thought St. Louis was the big city. The author portrayal of Kevin is a typical one for a young person leaving home. There was no exaggeration here, the author hit just the right tone. There is a nice nod to and acknowledgment of the power of social media. Kevin setting up a party page that had 2000 followers was interesting.
The post-sample book that I read needs editing for some basic grammar mechanics. Commas appear suddenly for no reason. That is easy to fix. There is slang and some jargon that will not be familiar to all. The author can fix this with some context clues; it is not as easy to fix as editing but it will make a better presentation. The author sometimes unexpectedly enters the story with an aside that is jarring. When Kevin is talking to his mom after a car accident she tells him one important thing about the accident and the goes on to say something else. The author precedes the second thing with “The next part of the conversation is what I call the unfortunate part.” (loc 633). This unexpected intrusion of “I” doesn’t fit in the story flow.
Finally, and this is more for the political correctness types, there was no reason to have the following in the novella:
“While in the Walgreens, some transvestites came into the store. You could definitely tell they were men. They were dressed like women, but were large and had manly features. Will saw them and told Kevin they were men. Kevin was skeptical at first, but when he got a little closer, he saw the same thing Will saw. His exact words were, “Those are some dudes.” Will held back laughter in the store, but once he stepped outside, he laughed out loud.” (loc 511-515). The author is providing a set up for serious social criticism.
Overall, I recommend the book to the YA crown that will empathize with Kevin’s situation. It is worth reading to see how Kevin resolves (or not) his problems.