LIVING COLORFUL BEAUTY
From the Author:
LOVER IN THE NOBODY, LIVING COLORFUL BEAUTY and WHEN WE WERE INVINCIBLE have been nominated for the Crimson Quill Award and the INDIEFAB (the INDIES) Book of the Year! Both LOVER IN THE NOBODY and LIVING COLORFUL BEAUTY, have been chosen as Foreword Reviews' prestigious INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards finalists in erotica. In a competition with over 1,500 other entrants, it's pretty great to have made it this far. Stay tuned for the winner announcements at the end of June. Further, two of my books have made the BlueInk Review Best Books of 2016 list on Goodreads! Their list is composed of their favorite titles; books. I ask you to notify all your friends and followers of my books LOVER IN THE NOBODY and WHEN WE WERE INVINCIBLE, which are on this list. Invite them to vote for my titles, which will increase its ranking on the site. LOVER IN THE NOBODY, LIVING COLORFUL BEAUTY and WHEN WE WERE INVINCIBLE are in the running for the 24th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards and the BookLife Prize for Fiction. Publishers Weekly launched BookLife to integrate self-published book reviews into their regular review coverage. LIVING COLORFUL BEAUTY is a finalist in the NIEA 2016 Awards! - The National Indie Excellence Awards. Thank you for your wishes for continued success in promoting my books.
-- Jonathan Harnisch
This short novel by New Mexico writer Jonathan Harnisch features the same urgent anguish--and the same disturbing characters--as the author's 803-page, semi- autobiographical rampage through sexual obsession, schizophrenia and healing, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography. Good news: Living Colorful Beauty stands on its own, serving as a vivid introduction to this gifted, if flawed, writer's teeming mind. In 30-year-old Benjamin J. Schreiber, who suffers (like Harnisch) from schizo-affective disorder and Tourette's Syndrome, the author has created a brilliant and memorable psychotic. In reckless Georgie Gust, he delivers a convincing alter-ego to whom Ben can transfer "my confessionary details, my sins, my fetishes." As in Alibiography, their destructive common fantasy is the cruel, manipulative siren Claudia Nesbitt. Their possible salvation? An insightful shrink called Dr. C. Once again, Harnisch's prose is simultaneously original and confusing: "the words in my head have turned to salad," Ben tells us, but "my imagination's on fire." Careening between New York and Southern California, and even more wildly between the searing traumas of Ben's childhood and the perilous uncertainties of his present, the narrative reveals a tormented soul who is "merely a spy, an observer, into the world of my hallucinations" but who can sometimes make peace with his demons. "Let me lose my mind," Ben muses. "Fuck it. I'm going out for a walk on the beach. The beach is a block away. The voices in my head are raging. They're calling me a winner." For Harnisch, who playfully calls himself "the king of mental illness," writing fiction is clearly therapeutic. An editor character tells Ben: "The problem though is that your reader cannot possibly follow your train of thought," and that's often our problem, too. But the authenticity of Harnisch's voice bursts through the tangles and repetitions of his language. He's the real thing.
-- BlueInk Review
Living Colorful Beauty is a twisted, intensely character-driven ride. In Living Colorful Beauty, author Jonathan Harnisch tells the story of Ben, a man diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome, schizoaffective disorder, and several other issues. Ever since his youth, Ben has been both plagued by mental illness and obsessed with venality. As he navigates through an unstable, directionless life and leaves a string of shattered romances in his wake, he generates a fictional character, Georgie Gust, to deal with his many paraphilias and neuroses. But with the introduction of a new psychotherapist, Ben may have a chance to let go of his doppelgänger as well as his overwhelming insecurity. Though the book is saturated with Ben's sexuality, its prevailing theme is actually his struggle to come to terms with his mental health. The entire book reads like a Freudian therapy session, so the ultimate resolution of Ben's problems is appropriate. Ben's internal creative process is integral to the book's effectiveness, since much of the psychoanalysis Ben receives seems to come from himself through the lens of his fictional creation, Georgie. The book features an almost claustrophobic amount of navel-gazing, which may be intentional. At times, the reading experience leaves no doubt as to how the book's main character could drive himself crazy with his recursive, obsessive self-examination. Ben and Georgie have an interesting and nuanced relationship. At times Ben seems completely unable to control his double while simultaneously being one with him. He often reassures himself that his creation is the inferior man, citing Georgie's pumpkin-like body as the reason that nobody will ever want him. On the other hand, of the two of them, Georgie seems to have the more active love life. Ben reaches for emotional intimacy through relationship after relationship, but his illness, issues with women, and physical demands--the Georgie in him--constantly hamper his progress. As the narrator, Ben's point of view colors all of the other characters. Several of these, in addition to Georgie, are or may be fictional, mere expressions of Ben's illness. This is especially true of the women in Ben's life. There are comparatively very few men in this story, but the women are usually of a seductive and even predatory type. Ben aggressively sizes up the ladies he knows, from his girlfriends to his therapist, in terms of their attractiveness, perhaps in an attempt to balance the scales, since in his own perception, women are domineering copies of his own terrifying mother. Part of Ben's evolution is to move toward a valuing of women beyond his mother issues, a satisfying direction for this character to travel. Living Colorful Beauty is a twisted, intensely character-driven ride that ends on a hopeful note. It may interest fans of Charles Bukowski and Tom Robbins.
-- Foreword Clarion Reviews
A surrealistic psychological novel about one man's struggle to know his own mind. The latest work from Harnisch (Living with Serious Mental Illness and Physical Disabilities, 2016, etc.) details the story of a man named Ben, a writer and long-term mental patient who's been through the psychiatric treatment mill for a significant chunk of his life. He's had a wide variety of diagnoses, from schizoaffective disorder to Tourette's syndrome, and he's been in torrid, mostly unhealthy relationships with a variety of women, including the domineering, alluring Claudia Nesbitt, with whom he's obsessed. Ben's accounts of his thoughts and adventures ripple with writerly affect; he's constantly aware of his own way with words, and he holds his talent in high regard: "I'll stick a lotta non sequiturs and utilize some wit in crafting the individual sentences," he writes, "and who knows, they might even border on brilliant." The key figure in his accounts is Georgie, his alter ego and repository of many of his strongest, most troubling urges. "Georgie comes and goes," he writes, "but he's always been a part of me." Indeed, he's an invented lightning rod for some of the impulses he's trying to control. The bulk of Harnisch's novel deals in a picaresque, roundabout way with Ben's efforts to come to grips with his own mental state. Ben's life is filled with sex and drugs, and the author describes these elements with an unvarnished directness that some readers will find unnerving and perhaps distasteful (the sex-related language, in particular, is quite explicit). But that same feral directness is part of the point of the narrative, as it underscores Ben's intense grappling with the chaos inside and outside his head. Some of Harnisch's storytelling devices work better than others--the narrative's rapid time shifts are particularly jarring--but the book as a whole is compelling. A bluntly honest psychosexual odyssey.
-- Kirkus Reviews
Take a deep breath and enter the world of Jonathan Harnisch. For readers already familiar with his work and particularly those who have read Lover In The Nobody, there can be no doubt he brings a powerful and highly distinctive literary voice to all of his musings. An author, for whom schizophrenia takes literary form, Harnisch brings his characters to life by embracing sensationalism and eschewing a propensity in the wider realms of literature to constrain schizophrenia through the use of universal tropes. Portrayed as a grotesque, tragic, perverse or crippling affliction, rarely do we truly come to know the characters beyond a state of airy detachment. This then is the genius of Harnisch's words and no more evident than in Living Colorful Beauty. An unwavering ability to look to his own experiences and transition these to the written word without diminishing them. He doesn't gild the proverbial Lilly, if he was standing in a glass house with a stone in his hand he would throw it and damn the consequences. He doesn't care if you feel uncomfortable, he wants you to know his characters intimately by making schizophrenia visible. We are left in no doubt that Ben is a man apart. Uncomfortable and internal, seeking to find himself and Harnisch does a brilliant job of dramatizing the personality split between Ben and his fictional alto ego, Georgie Gust. As you might expect, they are poles apart with Harnisch mapping a harrowing journey for his readers. He embraces their eccentricities, he revels in the detail, he makes us feel as though we are descending into madness alongside them and there are times when you can take his words and imagine the scene he's describing as a striking still image. Nothing is casual and it's incredibly powerful, leaving us to wonder if the line between fiction and reality is little more than a matter of perception. Exceptional by any measure, Living Colorful Beauty proves a powerful revealing read and one deserving of broad critical acclaim. It is recommended without reservation.
-- Book Viral