Sunday, August 8, 2010

"A Crucible of Innocence"

A dear friend of mine, Roger W. Forsythe, has written a poetic novel, titled, "A Crucible of Innocence". The novel takes inspiration from a time that I was honored to share with the author and a close group of friends. The following is a synopsis of the book found on the Barnes and Noble website.

"When a health crisis reignites the conflict he has with his boss, Conrad Scott quits the Bethel, California "World-Democrat" and takes five part-time jobs-one minding the graveyard shift at a radio station haunted by its former owner. Having faced the supernatural before as a Civil War re-enactor, Conrad crosses the extreme in what soon escalates as a boxing match exorcism. It succeeds.

By the time his friends find him, he has survived 90 hours without sleep. After healing two weeks in closed-ward asylum, he realizes his was not the only demon which had to be confronted.

As old wounds heal, in and out of work, deeper cuts slice fresh the scar anew. Four months later, when everyday traumas bleed free of tourniquet-tightened control, Conrad swallows 37 sleeping pills.

Throughout, imagination wrecks havoc on the world in which he is forced to live. These fantasies cast him as the assistant wireless operator aboard "Titanic," a Union soldier dying in Antietam's corn field, and a corporal in Omaha Beach's bloody wake.

Like an angel pinhead dancing the fine rhapsody of madmen and genius, Conrad envisions himself borne by Christ through the wilderness, as Icarus skydiving into the drop zone, as a barkeep serving the literary immortals, as Adam pioneering the American Eden, as King Arthur being handed the Holy Grail, and-finally-as John Keats (to whom the novel is dedicated) . . . himself, on prior passage.

With angels everywhere protecting him, Conrad's self-descension is cut short to the quick by Destiny reconciled. Before Dr. Aleksandre Stavros can sign and date his release, the first of the New Beat Romantics has committed himself to liquidating all assets andgoing wherever God leads him.

His spirit then travels out of his body, joining Henry David Thoreau, Jack Kerouac, Jack London, Stephen Crane, and Robert Louis Stevenson as they play cards in Shakespeare's kitchen. They confront him, console him, and challenge him to consecrate his life before God. He does so. When Keats joins in impromptu reunion, their spirits unite as one.

As the loose ribbons of present existence gift-like wrap an Independence Day shared joyous in the park, Conrad's spirit steps easily aside to allow Kerouac and Keats the rare opportunity of enjoying life beyond the great perpetuity.

Genius, he has discovered, is as common as the Holy Spirit about each of us embraced: Easy comes the beatnik laughing. "

The following is a review of "A Crucible of Innocence" by John Helman found in Allbooks Reviews.

"A crucible is defined as a container in which the contents can be heated to extremely high temperatures to either purify the contents by burning off impurities or cause them to bind together to form new compounds. It is into such an environment that James Conrad Scott is thrown. The great that is applied to his own crucible is from the force of the life he leads and, the lives of the past he allows to affect his current existence and what an interesting existence it is. Since this is only Volume One of the saga of James Conrad Scott, the purification in the crucible is in no way complete, but it is off to a fascinating start.

The author, Mr. Forsythe, has used his poetic gifts to create a special experience here. Reading this book is not something that can be done in an evening or on a weekend. It must be done with no timeframe of completion in mind. It is written in a style where time must be taken for re-reading, contemplating, and savoring. Only a poet can do this. The books within this book and the poems of James Conrad Scott that are included by the author serve to illustrate the complexity of the spirit of the individual. This author seems to come very close.

This book is recommended to any reader who wants for something more in a book. It is definitely not 'popular' fiction. It is not a 'good read.' It does make for great and worthwhile reading and that is what this reviewer seeks.

Roger W. Forsythe has published three volumes of poetry as well as a chapter of Civil War history prior to this foray into poetic fiction. Highly recommended."

As a tribute to by friend Roger, I have dedicated my song, "The Road to Enswell" (which will be released in 2011), to him, and his literary character, Conrad Scott. I think of you often, Roger, and wish you the very best with your novel.

The Road to Enswell
by Scott Kubala

Where did you go? How many paths were yours to take?
You thought you knew the road, and all the twists and turns you’d make.
But it’s turned really clear, this life is really queer,
You’re facing fears you couldn’t shake.

What about the sights you’ve seen, and all those thoughts that fill your head?
Do they look much like the words and pictures from the books that you have read?
Did you find yourself surprised, at life’s pages, all those lies?
Reaffirmed by all the things they’ve said.

Guided by the light of day, there lies the path that takes you home.
It’s been so many years, so many towns through which you’ve roamed.
You’re like a child again, they’ll ask you where you’ve been,
The deal is done, your hand is shown.

"A Crucible of Innocence" can be found at all good bookstores, as well as online at

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