Katka by Stephen R. Meier

Title:  Katka

Author:  Stephen R. Meier

Paperback:  107 pages

Date Published:  2008

Publisher:  booksurge

ISBN:  9781439216330

“Gavin why are you here in Prague?”  Katka asked as they were walking along one of the cobblestone streets.
The question seemed to be one that Gavin didn’t like answering, and one that caused a bit of duress.
“I just wanted to get away for awhile,” he finally answered.
“From?”
“Life.”
It was the way he said it.
“Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, just every now and then you need to take a step back and reevaluate things.”
She just listened.
“I just couldn’t stay there.”
Thinking about it made Gavin angry, very angry.  He had done everything by the book, had gone to college, gotten a degree and a job right out of University.  One complete with benefits, a matching 401k, everything.  Perhaps it was a life that he never really wanted, but still, his parents had been so proud.  He never saw it coming.
Sometimes life just isn’t fair.
“Why Prague?’
“To find you,” Gavin answered with a smile.
They both laughed.
“No, my buddy Pat lives out here and told me to come out and that I could work at his bar.  He’s been out here for awhile now and loves it, so I figured why not.”
“Do you like it?”
“I love it, especially right at this moment.”
It was cheesy, but the right thing to say at the time.
Katka loved it.
They stopped walking and turned to one another.
They stared deep into one another’s eyes.
“You’re absolutely stunning,” he said pushing a piece of hair out of her face.
She blushed.
They they kissed.  The kind of kiss that moves mountains, creates dreams.
Writes a fairy tale.

Katka by Stephen R. Meier, pages19-20

First of all, I want to get all the unpleasantness out of the way.  I did not like this book.  At all.  I was in pain for most of the (thank gawd it was only) 107 pages.  It wasn’t as bad as The Gun Runner’s Daughter (worst book ever), but it was bad.  I give Katka by Stephen R. Meier 1 out of 5 stars.

Now, having said that, let me explain.  First off, I feel bad for not liking the book.  Meier spent 7+ years trying to get this story out there, and it’s definitely a labor of love for him.  I truly wanted to like this book, as the description sounded very intriguing.

Katka by Stephen Meier is a gritty, edgy novel of greed, love, and swindles gone very wrong.  When Gavin and his girlfriend team with her best friend Simona to pull a phony mail order bride scam in the Czech Republic, Gavin gets in way over his head in the high-stakes and dangerous business of selling wives.  When Gavin talks Katka, his girlfriend, into becoming part of the merchandise, planning to bait-n-switch the client in the end, things go awry and Katka disappears with the client.  Partnering with the jealous and volatile Simona, Gavin begins to lament this risky life he has chosen, but finds the money is something he can’t walk away from. Gavin’s doubts grow; the con begins to consume him, and he finds himself thinking of Katka, the fate he dealt her, and whether he can undo the biggest mistake of his life.  Written with staccato grit and streetwise savvy, Katka reads like a Quentin Tarantino movie.  Stephen Meier’s work will leave you begging for more.

So where did it go wrong?  The writing, mostly.  I think part of the book’s problem is that, originally, it was written as a screenplay and later adapted into a novella.  Nearly all of the book is written in short, punchy sentences, as demonstrated by the quote.  There are no indentations for paragraphs, and the grammatical and spelling errors were too abundant to overlook.  I was tempted to send the book flying when I came across “Gavin striked Dale across the face” on page 77 (just 30 pages more, you can do it!  I said to calm myself).

Also, the book’s timeline is disjointed with seemingly random flashbacks and bunny trails of side-thoughts.  Meier gives no lead ins to the changes and, by the time the story returned to original scene, I couldn’t remember what the heck was even going on.  It was all too irritating and confusing.

Adding to all that was the gratuitous sex and violence, and the overuse of the ‘F’ word that seemed more like, “Hey, I’m a tough guy because I say the F word a lot.”  I did expect sex and swearing, given the subject matter, but where it appears often appears out of place and contrived. 

Then there were the characters, most seemed mildly schizophrenic, behaving one way in one setting then flipping it in another.  I don’t think Gavin used the F word more than five times in the whole book when he was alone with Katka, which is why I thought maybe it was an attempt to butch him up.  The majority of them were underdeveloped, flat, and didn’t inspire me to empathy.  The novella is too short for the amount of characters used to be properly developed and for all the sub-plots to receive the needed attention to make sense.

HAVING SAID ALL THAT…..

There are glimpses of potential good in this novella.  It would be a really good starting place for a novel; it felt more like reading a concept for a novel.  It does have a feel, toward the end, of the movie Indecent Proposal.  I think it could be a great novel, but it needs a lot more work.  AND, a better editor (maybe a woman editor would help smooth out the edges?).

As it is, I think it would appeal to guys in their late teens to late twenties.  It has a feel of a dime store novel and of the old 8-pager… the pulp-fiction porno.

Here are a few other reviews of Katka, some people even liked it.

Chicago Center for Literature and Photography– rated it 7.3 out of 10 and said, “it’s not much more than just a basic pulp-fiction tale, nothing more and nothing less than a typical film-noir B-picture put out by Hollywood in the 1920s and ’30s, updated in this case for modern sensibilities and cultural references.”

The Faerie Drink Review  gave Katka a 4 out of 5.  You can also read Devyn’s interview with Stephen Meier here.

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Long and short of it…  I really did not like Katka, and after reading the interview, I feel bad for saying it.  Meier seems like a decent guy, who was inspired by real life events to write the story, and has been on a seven-year journey to finally see his baby born… and I’m pooping on it *sigh*  BUT… it’s not the kind of bad that I’d say, “Don’t read this,” because obviously some people do like it.  Also, I would love to read Meier’s next book, Teaching Pandas to Swim, though he probably won’t invite me to read it.

*now I feel guilty… off to buy 10 copies of Katka….*

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The Sunday Salon

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Let’s see, this week I’ve been friends with a snowman and a rabbit. I’ve b,een to Papau New Guinea, Boston, Czechoslavakia, and the Congo. I’ve lived in Kabul and Pakistan in a time women had no rights. I’ve been enraptured by the stories of a second-grader in Watertower and China. I’ve been out to the county fair, where we ate swamp fries, roas’nears and elephant ears, and drank lemon shake-ups to our hearts content. AND, yesterday morning, I took Maggie for breakfast at her favorite place, The White House.

Okay, the first four sentences were things I did in books, I read and reviewed The Rabbit and the Snowman, The White Mary, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and Gooney Bird Greene.

But we did go to the county fair and we really did eat breakfast at the White House. Of course, when the county fair is open, you have to go more than one day. You have to see the animals and the merchants one night, and do the midway on another night.

So Monday was roosters, rabbits and merchants night, which is my favorite. I love going through the merchants buildings and signing up for every single drawing every business, church or club offers. In the past I’ve one a DirectTV satellite package, Avon baskets, shirts, and other stuff I can’t remember. This year, though, so many were offering gas cards. That kinda sucks, since I don’t drive… but I signed up for them anyway.

On Wednesday, we went for bracelet night at the midway. I even got a bracelet, which is stupid because I have vertigo. Maggie and I rode an up and down kind of ride. It didn’t spin, so I thought I’d be safe… wrong. But I know to focus on one spot to keep from getting sick… Maggie, poor Maggie, did not. She quickly exited the side of the ride and lost her lunch. She was pretty much ready to go home after that. I have a question for any med-savvy people, Maggie has eczema that flared this week, so she’d taken Benadryl, can that make you more prone to motion sickness? I told her that’s why she got sick.

Oh well, we went to look at the horses after that. We scratched several piggie’s backs and made our way back to the midway for our last ride. By then Mag’s stomach was settled, and our tradition is to save the Ferris wheel for our final fair event. The thing creaked and groaned and scared poor Maggie, who thought with certainty we were going to plummet to our deaths. I told her it just needed some WD-40 and we were safe, though I secretly agreed with her and I never get frightened on rides!

We lived.

Breakfast at the White House… I’m sure you’ve been dying to know. Here in Logansport, there is a restaurant called “White House”. It is owned by Lester, who has been cooking at the White House since my momma was a little girl, and that’s saying something! Mags and me, we always order the same thing, eggs over easy, toast with extra butter, smoked sausage and bacon, home fries with onions, chocolate mile for Mags and coffee for me. We always have the same waitress, Karen, so we never actually have to tell her what we want, unless we are adding a pancake with peanut butter like we did yesterday. Mag’s loves Karen, who’s watched her grow since we had our first breakfast there when Maggie was three. Like most places Maggie goes, she gets away with a lot at the White House… she brings flowers and a smile, and all the orneriness she can muster!

Also this week, I found FRED, where Julie shared the Fart in the Duck, Fyrefly asked Where the Hell is Matt and Suey shared her addiction to Vlogbrothers.

My First Ever Giveaway!! is winding down… only 11 days until it closes! Right now, I have 584 entries, and am giving away a $20, a $10, and a $5 Borders gift card. 16 more entries will add another $10 gift card, and at 700 I was going to add another $5, but I’ve been thinking… that’s such a great number, that it might be more. So… if you haven’t entered to win yet, do it now!
Enter to WIN!!