Sunday, 7 June 2015

Blog Tour/Q&A/Review - If Jack Had by Steven Rappaport

Today is my turn on the Blog Tour for If Jack Had. It is going to be a lengthy post with an introduction to the author and premise of the book, a very intriguing Q & A and my review of the book.

If you would like to follow the tour then read Blog Tour-If Jack Had for links to my fellow bloggers and tour dates. There will be guest posts, author interviews, excerpts, book reviews, Q&A's and giveaways for the entire month of June. So without further ado:


About the Author:

Steven Rappaport, age 68, has been a stock trader, pot dealer, itinerant hippie peddler, cab driver, retailer, and is currently a successful commercial real estate salesperson in Manhattan.

He offers a simple rationale for his first novel: “My eldest son, Jack, died at forty from a progressively debilitating, unknown neurological disorder. This brilliant boy, a Vassar grad, never got to live the life he deserved. I’ve infused him with one.”

About If Jack Had:

"What's the difference between a serial killer and an assassin? A pay check."

Jack is a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist with a secret second job. Since he was a smart-ass grad student slinking around New York’s Upper West Side and Brighton Beach, he’s been working as an assassin for the Russian mob.

Beginning at the end – that is, with an aged, incontinent, and at last truly alone Jack, his mind made
up that tomorrow will be the first day he kills someone he loves: himself – If Jack Had [Black Rose Writing, June 4 2015] tells his story in rearview, providing an all-access-pass into the enviable, high-flying life he clear-cut for himself against all odds…and the (literal) trail of dead he left along the way.

The debut novel from sixty-eight-year-old Manhattan author Steve Rappaport, If Jack Had is, much like its protagonist, more than meets the eye. A caper comedy featuring sex and drugs, blasphemy and blood, far-flung exotic locales and all the other stuff that makes for good, not-so-clean fun, If Jack Had also happens to have a big, beating heart. Beneath the surface, it’s a meditation on family, fatherhood, the indignities of aging, the inevitability of loneliness, and the preciousness of life itself.

Q & A with Steven Rappaport

I like to introduce authors by asking them a few questions to 'break the ice.'

The last book you read?
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan.

A group, singer or song your readers would be surprised to hear you listen to?
The Incredible String Band

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
God. He would have the best stories.

All of the above questions are a pretty elaborate psych evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones.

As the author, do you think Jack is a sociopath? Is that the way you wanted the readers to perceive him? (not all of them obviously, because each reader has a subjective experience)
If I were a psychologist, I guess I would. I drew a character and I told a story. I never thought or cared about how he, or any of the characters, or the story itself, would be perceived.

Has he unknowingly raised a child with the same tendencies or is this child a product of his father's or perhaps not so well hidden second life?
Good question. Nature/Nurture. He had three other children who didn't have the same anger as the killer does. However, ostensibly, he was the gentlest of the offspring. What lies beneath...

Towards the end it becomes apparent that Jack has perhaps been overly confident in his ability to hide his second identity from his family. Do you think it was important to him to maintain the life as a normal husband and father?
More than important. It was a necessary fact of existence.

Would he have been able to live without killing? Is the need to kill a necessity?
If not killing, then some other way to express the hurt and resentment and anger at the core.Killing can be seen as a talent that naturally arises, like the person who becomes a cellist without having a Tiger Mom pushing them since birth. Cream rises to the top.

In the end is his wish to die ruled more by the liability he knows he has become or because he can no longer get his thrills by killing, because he knows he will forget?
A killer is a control freak. Aging is the gradual loss of control over your body, your life and your mind. At a certain point, life sucks, and is no longer worth living. Your last act is the final expression of the way you lived, in charge of your own destiny. And it is a final gift to those you loved.

How much of yourself flows into your characters?
Write what you know.

Last but not least I would like to thank you for answering my questions (even the odd ones).

Before I launch into my review there is something I would like to say about my reading experience of If Jack Had. First I read the book, then based on that I wrote the questions for the Q&A. Then I read Steve's answers to my questions, which made me ponder both the man and the story. When I then read the author and book blurb everything just slotted into place for me.

Review:

Rappaport has written a main character, who is full of a deep inner anger. Jack comprehends that particular side of himself, which is why I think he decides to seek out a solution or rather an avenue to express his true emotions.

The anger and resentment is present from the very beginning. The violence goes hand in hand with him throughout his childhood and then adult life. Does he enjoy it? Does he feel the need to kill? Do the kills fill him with an inner satisfaction?

I think the answer to those questions is fairly obvious at any time during the story. Jack is two people at the same time.The loving family man with a mediocre life, and the killer with a penchant for brutality. Never the twain shall meet.

Jack comes to a drastic conclusion towards the end of his life. In his muddled state he has become a liability, a risk factor he and others can't really measure. To save his fake image, his family and to keep everyone safe from his business associates.

In an ironic twist, someone close to him has followed in the same angry footsteps. Is that the call of nature or has he nurtured someone like himself? Perhaps his secret life wasn't as secret as he thought. The ones who think they are smarter than everyone else, tend not be as smart as they think they are. Jack seems to have become a believer in his own myth.

I enjoyed the way Rappaport ended the book. In his own way he has shown that we are all but mere mortals, no matter how great, intelligent, dangerous or humane we are. No difference is made between a person, who has led their life with integrity, purpose and has left a positive mark on society or one who has left nothing but a trail of negativity behind them. Death is the same to all.

This is a fast paced tale with many layers if you look closely and read between the lines.

To Buy:

If Jack Had [Black Rose Writing] is available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in brick-and-mortar bookstores nationwide as of June 4, 2015.

Find If Jack Had on Goodreads and at http://ifjackhad.com

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