BOOK REVIEW: From Here to There and Back
By Robin Blake, M.D.
Self-published, printed at the University of Missouri Bookstore
Review by Steve Weinberg
When I met Columbia resident Robin Blake, M.D. (full name Robert L. Blake, Jr.) maybe five years ago at the home of a mutual acquaintance, I could tell he was different from the newbie-author norm.
Blake has never been a professional writer, but felt certain he could write well enough to publish books strangers would want to read. He had studied writing informally with accomplished authors, including Trudy Lewis and Speer Morgan from the University of Missouri English Department. He never believed writing would be easy, but he sounded confident nonetheless.
In postscripts to a few of the stories, Blake explains the origin of the subject matter, how he allowed his brain to invent alternates to reality as lived by him. The inspiration for the majority of the stories, though, is left unexplained in the text.
Like other self-published authors, Blake would have benefitted from close collaboration with a talented professional editor. The narrative flow of From Here to There and Back is sometimes bumpy from paragraph to paragraph. And surely embarrassing: he has misspelled the name of the Harry Potter series author; misspelled the name of the infamous Oklahoma City federal building bomber/mass murderer; misspelled the word "Acknowledgments," a section in many books thanking relatives and friends for their support.
Blake has room to improve, but writing a book is difficult. Even a bad book is tough to complete, and only a small percentage of professional writers who have honed their craft for decades write great books.
Some excellent stories and surprising subjects make From Here to There and Back a good book and a worthy read.