Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fire Always Burns Uphill

Fire Always Burns Uphill
By Keith Parker
Published by Iuniverse

This isn't the first time I have reviewed a book written by someone I know. In fact, I also reviewed a book by one of my cousins. But this is probably the first time I have reviewed a book written by someone who most likely regularly reads these reviews. But since he shamelessly wanted all his friends to purchase an e-copy so that he could make lots and lots of money, I suppose that I shouldn't be too worried. Parker already has my money.

Fire Always Burns Uphill is really a romance between best friends Dylan Delaney and Zelda Wilcox.  But don't expect roses and romance. Instead, take a peak into the minds and lives of two very passionate but dysfunctional individuals and try hard to figure out if they are really meant for one another. Although I was expecting a sort of thriller with chase scenes, there was a great deal of dialogue, crazy characters, strange thought processes and lots of personal revelations.

These two people, Dylan and Zelda, call one another friends and claim to really share themselves only with one another. But it isn't until the end of the book that they really share what has been going on in their lives. One character has been keeping a devastating secret and the other has been doing some stalking. Although Dylan suffers from depression (his actions are more manic-depressive in my opinion) and self-medication, it is Zelda the psychologist who seems to need the most help. In fact, I found myself really liking Dylan and wanting Zelda to hit the road. The hope expressed at the end is that they will somehow help each other out by providing the healing balance that the other needs.

What I found most interesting in the book is the male viewpoint of romance. Most romance novels are written by women. These books are from the woman's point of view. Much of what you see is about feelings. Descriptions of the character's looks are often focused on what other women would notice (clothes, makeup, hair color, etc) and, at least for the female characters, what they find lacking in their own appearance. Parker gives us a more mental love. Love is about sharing the intimate facts and thoughts in your head with someone who will not use those against you. That isn't to say that Parker shies away from suggesting that men are also pretty focused on one particular women's body part.

The book's characters do talk to one another which is a big change from many romances I've read. In fact, Parker gives us a more cerebral view of love and a more psychotic view of hate. Being hurt in Parker's novel means that one will probably strike out in some kind of mental illness -- whether against others or against the self. Depression, stalking, suicide, murder are just some of the ways to deal with the pain of relationships.

I finished reading the book and said to myself, "This is truly fiction. There is no basis for reality in this at all." Then I started thinking about the people I have met and spoken with. The personal stories I've been told. The similarities of real people to the characters of Dylan, Zelda and others in the book are actually kind of spooky. Perhaps not one single individual would have all of Dylan's problems but several persons I know could share very similar past experiences.

I did have a problem with Zelda's hurt foot. Despite her injuries, she is still able to hobble about, bathe in the stream and participate in romantic activities. I winced every time it was mentioned that she moved around. At one point she sat Indian style and I wanted to scream for her: that had to hurt. But this is fiction.

What does this book have to do with my faith? Dylan and Zelda have an entire conversation about God, life after death, and their belief. Dylan tells Z (his nickname for her) that she should just choose something and then believe. What does she think life after death is like? Picture that and then believe it. Certainly Dylan himself seems to have a belief system but his own faith is rather foggy. Z and Dylan have more faith in themselves than God. Fire Always Burns Uphill made me think about my own beliefs about life after life. I realize I actually have more faith in God than myself when it comes to that.

If you are interested in local authors, self-publications and a different kind of romance, I recommend Fire Always Burns Uphill.

Happy reading!


Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims


  1. Wow! Being the author, it's difficult to say much more than "thank you", but I would add two things:
    1) The novel's original premise was Twilight Zone-type fantasy; that was changed to "realism" by the editor, and 2) Zelda has not been well-received. I didn't intend for her to be an antagonist, but she appears to play that role.
    And the thing about her foot is what we writers call a mistake.
    Thank you so much!

  2. Good review, reflected some of my own thoughts as well. I actually liked Zelda, though--or at least found her to be the kind of woman I have actually found myself attracted to in real life (maybe that says something about *my* psychological health, lol). I also thought it interesting to read a romance from a male point of view. I thought Parker did a pretty good job with that.

    In response to Keith - I kinda wish your editor had left well-enough alone and let you write the Twilight Zone type novel. That sounds intriguing....

  3. Maybe I should write a sequel: The Bride of Fire Always Burns Uphill :-)

  4. Excellent review! i like the idea of a more cerebral take on romance. So many fictional romances take a left turn into a vat of melted velveeta. It's always nice to see a couple keep their wits about them even as they cross the line from friendship into romance.